Google Street View Data Breach

Google Street View Data Breach

My Thoughts on the Google Street View Data Breach

Just some late to the game thoughts on the Google Street View Data Breach last year, coming to light as I think about iGoogle shutting down October. Seems like a silly segue, to go from Google’s Street view data breach to iGoogle, but this is why – the thought occurred to me that maybe Google is shutting down iGoogle because of all 3rd party applications that iGoogle users are interacting with and Google doesn’t want to share with them anymore. If you’re currently an iGoogle user, Google recommends setting up all your data (post iGoogle shutdown) on the Google Chrome tools available instead. People aren’t thrilled about the iGoogle shut down, but I guess Google doesn’t care. Maybe Google just wants all of our data, by any means necessary and they don’t want to share. And maybe the street view breach case is just one example. Another example is Google encrypting all of their keyword data – leaving not only search marketers in the dark but also website producers who just want to provide relevant content to their users, inevitably websites will be less relevant without this bit of insight. Again, users suffer and Google doesn’t care. Anyway the keyword encryption is a whole ‘nother discussion for a whole different day.

Back to the Google Street View Data Breach, some Background

The Court Case started in 2010, Google Street View Data Breach
You know about street view, even if you didn’t know you knew – you may even have spotted those fun, cute little Google Cars driving around town, spying on you, collecting YOUR personal data from WiFi networks. (I totally DID see a Google Streetview car one time in Secaucus, NJ. It was parked outside of a Panera. Inside the vehicle were lots of fast food bags and what appeared to be doggy gear like toys & a leash)

Pbssst personal data? Yeah right like what my browser version and WiFi speed connection?

More than Wifi connection speed & browser info, in fact much more. Google hired a hacker engineer (Street View Engineer Responsible Identified)who master-minded the WiFi Google Street View Project and coded so that it was in fact collecting your emails, personal texts, passwords, photos, video, audio anything available from payload data on a WiFi network. You don’t have to believe me, he was caught and Google did pay for what they did, admitting guilt.
Check out the Full FCC Report Google Street Data Breech
or read this article on the NY TImes which is shorter and simpler, FCC Reports on Google Data Harvesting Deliberate Act

You know, if you have to persist that you very specifically ARE NOT something, chances are…Google, evil?

Sure, I hear you.

Valid Arguments against Google being at fault

  • Engineers collect data and ask questions later, they’re engineers/hackers not privacy policy experts
    it was a mistake
  • This engineer guy was a total lone ranger, His superiors had no idea he was doing this.
  • Googlers are encouraged to work on their own engineery projects in small task groups, it’s common that higher-ups won’t know what exactly they’re doing

But, seriously. no.

Why the above arguments scare me

  • If they’re true – If his superiors didn’t know, really, and he master-minded this entire thing, wrote the code, set up the cars and the people and the application and no one knew about it – Big bad ‘Google’ is a lot ‘simpler’ than we thought and this guy outsmarted the entire company getting them in a ton of real trouble. So, Google, what else are you doing with my data and info, collecting ‘by accident?’
  • If they aren’t true- Google is straight lying to the government in a court room, Google is throwing their engineer under the bus, Google is deliberate and sneaky in their attempts to collect and keep our data to themselves…by any means (lying, stealing, cheating.) Federal regulators actually charged that Google had “deliberately impeded and delayed” an investigation into the data collection and ordered a $25,000 fine on the search giant.

So finally,

“The commission found that Google had violated provisions of the Communications Act of 1934. Of the $25,000 penalty, Ms. Ellison said, “It’s an appropriate fine based on evidence that the investigation was deliberately impeded and our precedent.”

Read more about the outcome, Google IS fined for Impeding US Inquiry on Data Collection

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