US comms watchdog probes Google Street View Wi-Fi slurp
'Public disclosure' opened door for investigation
Google’s Street View service is being probed by the US Federal Communication Commission to determine whether the company’s “worrisome” Wi-Fi data slurp broke any laws.
The ad broker said in October that it was “mortified” that Google’s Street View cars had inadvertently collected payload data including emails and passwords from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.
"In light of their public disclosure, we can now confirm that the Enforcement Bureau is looking into whether these actions violate the Communications Act," said FCC enforcement bureau boss Michele Ellison yesterday.
Google repeated its apology about the data slurp on Wednesday and said it was working with watchdogs on the matter.
"We want to delete the data as soon as possible and will continue to work with the authorities to determine the best way forward, as well as to answer their further questions and concerns," a Google spokesman told Reuters.
In June the FCC said that Google’s interception of data was “worrisome”, after the internet giant admitted its Street View cars in more than 30 countries secretly sniffed chunks of web traffic as it travelled over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.
Google, which had previously assured users the network payloads weren't collected, later admitted that the sniffing had been "accidental".
“Whether intentional or not, collecting information sent over Wi-Fi networks clearly infringes on consumer privacy,” said FCC official Joe Gurin earlier this year.
At the start of November, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office changed its mind about Google's Street View and decided that it was after all in breach of the Data Protection Act.
It had initially cleared Google’s collection of WiFi data by insisting it contained no personal information. The ICO – attacked by MPs for being “lily-livered” about the data slurp – later re-opened its probe, following tough action by other privacy bodies around the world. ®
It's too late
Google has the data and they plan to keep it. Does anyone really believe that they are going to delete every single instance of the data? No. Google has the data, and they are going to keep it. That's why they collecte3ed it in the first place.
No harm no foul?
Lets be clear. Google wants to delete the data right away so that there is no evidence of their crime. They are being told not to delete the evidence because of the allegations of a crime. (How serious we don't know until the investigation is completed.)
In the US, if a class action lawsuit occurs before Google can delete the data, then those impacted by the 'slurp' will be able to sue Google in civil court. If Google can delete the evidence, Google walks away clean.
So please try and keep up with the fact that Google wants to bury this ASAP and avoid millions in legal fees, fines and payouts. Were the rest of the world up to speed those millions could be billions since the breach happened on a global scale.
Due to US whistle blower laws, the person who tipped off the US Government could stand to collect a pretty penny and couldn't be fired from Google for blowing the whistle.
Google is guilty.
In the US, people have been arrested for using their cell phones to record a traffic stop. Depending on the wire tapping laws, even in a public place, they can be arrested. You want a good example, just ask Linda Tripp. ;-) (And yes, I love SNL's John Goodman skits ) :-)
So what Google did was illegal.
They copped to it once it because apparent that there was someone who was going to blow the whistle on them.
Google attempted to get out in front of this by trying to say that they lacked mens rea ?sp? which means they lacked a 'guilty mind'. This is legalese used to set up an affirmative defense that even if they committed the act, no crime was committed because they lacked the 'guilty mind' that it was an unintentional action.
This is pure bunk because Google also filed a patent on the technology to do exactly what they did. Not to mention that using 'open wi-fi' connection points is also illegal. If they are merely measuring the strength of a wi-fi broadcast of their SSID along with a captured geo spatial location, it becomes a 'gray area'.
So for all of the Google Fanbois... Google is definitely on thin ice and also this goes to say that they are truly evil.
Evil Ballmer because he looks more sinister than evil gates.