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Google's Latest Wi-Fi Snooping Fine: $189,000
By German Privacy Chief Who Discovered The Practice
by Karl Bode 06:31PM Monday Apr 22 2013
Back in April of 2010, Google was busted using their Google Street View cars to collect Wi-Fi data from areas they passed through. Google initially stated they only collected publicly available SSID and MAC Address data -- then later acknowledged that they were collecting snippets of actual transmitted data -- though Google insisted they did so accidentally, and only from unsecured hotspots. Several studies subsequently found that little to no useful data was collected, given collection vehicles automatically changed channels roughly five times a second -- and also faced physical obstacles and interference.

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Despite Google ultimately being pretty straightforward about screwing up, and the fact the data was neither useful or complete -- Google faced numerous lawsuits over the screw up. In the States, those lawsuits were ultimately packed into one large lawsuit brought by attorneys general from thirty different states -- a suit Google just settled for $7 million.

In Germany, Hamburg’s data protection chief Johannes Caspar was among the first to highlight the practice. This week Caspar's office fine Google $189,000 for the snooping, closing their investigation into the matter. Caspar's office is limited in regard to the amount he can fine, something he's not-too-happy about:
quote:
The fine levied by Mr. Caspar, the largest assessed so far by European regulators in Europe over the practice, amounts to 0.002 percent of Google’s $10.7 billion in 2012 net profit. "As long as violations of data protection law are penalized with such insignificant sums, the ability of existing laws to protect personal privacy in the digital world, with its high potential for abuse, is barely possible," Mr. Caspar said.
Casper actually did wind up believing that Google's data collection was accidental -- his fine cap would have been closer to $300,000 if he had found that Google was collecting this data intentionally.

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cooperaaaron

join:2004-04-10
Joliet, IL

Nothing....

to see here...move along....

diablo1892
Plough, sew, water, harvest. Repeat.

join:2011-04-21
Friendly, WV

haha

That looks ridiculously dumb..lol
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC

Google will stop doing it, right?

I think stopping the behavior is the goal, not "teaching them a lesson", right?

jap
Premium
join:2003-08-10
038xx

Re: Google will stop doing it, right?

said by axus:

I think stopping the behavior is the goal, not "teaching them a lesson", right?

The goal was first to understand what Google was actually doing (inquiries/investigations) then it became how to advance one's career as a prosecutor, regulator or politician whilst also dipping into Mr. Deep Pockets for some funds. I think you refer to the latter.

NotHereNow

@verizon.net

Yep, that should be enough...

to pay for the "investigation".

Mike
Premium,Mod
join:2000-09-17
Pittsburgh, PA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Yep, that should be enough...

Cost to play; $7,189,000. Amount of traffic and money it has generated for Google - Billions.

So about this check... is it for Mr. or Heir Caspar? Blue ink ok?
--
"If something about the human body disgusts you, complain to the manufacturer" - Lenny Bruce
What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

Mike
Premium,Mod
join:2000-09-17
Pittsburgh, PA
kudos:1

.

double post

gatorkram
Need for Speed
Premium
join:2002-07-22
Winterville, NC
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

Stupid...

Why is this even an issue again?

If anything, it should help teach people if they are using open unsecure wireless networks, they should be using a vpn to provide "wireline" type security to wireless transmissions.

I see no reason at all why this should be a crime. It's like using a CB to talk to a friend, and being surprised when other people intercept your conversation.

The airwaves belong to us all.
--
What the heck is a GatorKram? »www.gatorkram.com

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
kudos:2

1 recommendation

They'll spend more on bottled water

Add 3 zeros and they MAY have paid attention.
--
Nocchi rules.

cork1958
Cork
Premium
join:2000-02-26

Re: They'll spend more on bottled water

said by skeechan:

Add 3 zeros and they MAY have paid attention.

AT LEAST 3 zeros. Should've 6 or 9 zeros, IMO, though!!
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»www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/

cchhat01
Dr. Zoidberg

join:2001-05-01
Elmhurst, NY
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
·RCN CABLE
·Earthlink Cable ..

I fail to see how this case saw light of day...

How was this a criminal offense?

I can be walking around with a phone in my hand and the phone has WiFi in it. If the WiFi is on, it will keep searching for open hotspots.
If I was on a walk-a-thon, I would end up walking several miles and collect miles of data which tell me which location has a hotspot (not for something illegal but just incase I wanted to access my mail and if I was frugal enough not to spend money on HSPA data).

A company gets sued because they can afford to pay out the suit? Where do we draw the line here? In this day and age, I place responsibility on the user to protect their WiFi access via WPA2 (atleast WPA, WEP is basically asking for it, and Open networks are just saying... "please come in and take a dump and because I don't care, I don't expect you to either" )

Google even admitted that the data collection was accidental. Try replacing Google with Verizon or AT&T and see what would have happened. Not imaginative enough, here let me help:

Verizon: We don't spy on our customers
AT&T: We don't provide FBI with Wiretap and our customer's information...
--
"Look at me, I'm Dr. Zoidberg, homeowner."
dra6o0n

join:2011-08-15
Mississauga, ON
Reviews:
·ITalkBB

Re: I fail to see how this case saw light of day...

Under the pretense of 'privacy invasion' they can throw lawsuits around to net themselves profits. That's what law comes to when it regards huge corporations.

This is why corporations and companies are so fussy with rules and such, because law and lawsuits made it so critical that even a single vulnerability leads to massive lawsuits.
They don't care what, how, or why, they sue you because you did something 'wrong'.
dra6o0n

join:2011-08-15
Mississauga, ON
Reviews:
·ITalkBB
Also, since Google is a huge pain in the ass to major corporations, you can guess that a lot of them would pay law firms to bite them whenever possible. The money made from a 'underdog' of a threat is worth every penny.

That is, Google isn't exactly a 'underdog' but is sorta in that sense, a corporation that doesn't follow traditional corporate reasoning.

Anonymous_
Anonymous
Premium
join:2004-06-21
127.0.0.1
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
said by cchhat01:

How was this a criminal offense?

I can be walking around with a phone in my hand and the phone has WiFi in it. If the WiFi is on, it will keep searching for open hotspots.

Theft of service.. duh...

which results in criminal and/or civil penalties

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

I still don't see why logging SSID's was ever an issue

I transmit it out into the air. If someone sees it, well that was kinda the point, right?

Probitas

@teksavvy.com

fine?

The fine got paid because it was less than lawyers fees for defense in a court case.

Madness
Like a flea circus at a dog show

join:2000-01-05
Quincy, MA
kudos:1

Pocket Change?

Yeah?

captokita
Premium
join:2005-02-22
Calabash, NC

Baloney

I just wonder what they needed / wanted the data for exactly.

I think the fine is baloney though, because as was said here, if you're dumb enough to transmit through an unsecured wifi hotspot, you can't really be surprised that someone uses it. That doesn't mean someone else using it is RIGHT, but so many people are ignorant about just how far a wifi signal can travel....
Crookshanks

join:2008-02-04
Binghamton, NY
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..

Re: Baloney

said by captokita:

if you're dumb enough to transmit through an unsecured wifi hotspot, you can't really be surprised that someone uses it.

Not sure why this is relevant to Google's privacy invasion. Do you subscribe to cable modem service? Your unencrypted downstream traffic is potentially viewable to every other customer that shares your downstream channel(s). Many cable providers don't bother to use BPI. Would it bother you if Google started collecting this traffic?

AgentSmith

@comcast.net

Google = Skynet

The fine was low because Google is a whore for NSA and government frowns upon fining their corporate partners too severely or letting the publicity get too unmanageable.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Some of you on this thread need to read about Auschwitz and "just following orders" and "go along to get along".

Right comrades?