Saturday, May 15, 2010

Goooo/OO\ooogle Spies?

Seems whoever put together this handy-dandy little graphic left out a little something: While Google was recording the pictures for Google Street View, they were also capturing snippets of data flying over open wi-fi networks.

Google's done a lot of back-pedaling over this revelation -- which they fessed up to on their blog after a German governmental authority asked them about the data-tapping -- according to

Google has said that they only collected "snippets" of data, but that did include websites that people were visiting while on open networks. They added, however, that data on encrypted networks hadn't been compromised, and that they were working with appropriate authorities to destroy the data they've collected.

If this doesn't make you squeamish, substitute "government" for "Google," then see how comfortable you feel.

Why, I have to ask, is Google going about with equipment capable of gathering this kind of data in the first place? I thought Google Street View was for street views -- views which are unaffected whether they're inadvertently or on purpose gathering snippets of data from open networks. That they forgot to turn the switch off is less disturbing than the fact they decided they needed that option on their equipment in the first place.

If this were the government, would we trust that the collected data was being destroyed, that it was only snippets, and that the behavior was going to stop? More likely we wouldn't have that trust.

I've got no worries -- our home network is encrypted. And on the privacy front, I only put out stuff on this blog, Facebook, et cetera, that I'd dare show my grandmother, my employer, my spouse and even my children, so I've got no worries there. We burn documents that contain personal information. We don't blab. And if I see a Google street view vehicle coming up my street, I'm going to throw eggs at it.

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