You’ve probably all heard about the crap Google got into in Germany when it was found out (after initial denials by Google) that they were doing more than taking pictures of cats in the windows of homes. They were also (and they never informed the public of this) scanning all WiFi networks, logging on if they could and taking snapshots of whatever traffic was passing through the network. So bits of emails, images from websites etc. were logged against your GPS coordinates and your WiFi network name.
In February I asked Google to remove where I live from their Streetview database as per instructions from the Data Protection Commissioner. Being a human and not someone that spends big money with Google, I was ignored. I’m sure if they made money from me I’d be listened to and get a free Nexus too. So now I need to ask the same for my Wifi networks? Great.
The issues here are still being found out, for example in Germany the authorities investigating this serious privacy breach asked for the data that was collected but handing over the data breaches data privacy laws! But do they breach the Data Retention Directives? where countries including Ireland can demand an ISP store data on Internet usage. It’s great data for a Government to have. The location of every WiFi network in Ireland and the name of the network. What if someone was uploading an MP3 when being scanned? Could IRMA go after Google?
This is not like the screaming hysteria around Facebook where people sign up to Facebook and then give it data. This is Google coming into your neighbourhood and scanning your WiFi, aggregating it and other data around your location and then storing it in a database or databases. Where are these databases?
This whole story shows that even if this was an error in code it shows that now 30 countries are affected by it. Chinese hackers got into Google systems, imagine if they got this data or they themselves injected code in it. The arrogant grandstanding by Google, hiding behind their “do no evil” mantra, letting us know that they know better is not good enough in this situation. When technology like this, where a simple error can affect the privacy of potentially millions of people then maybe it’s up to the local data protection entities to examine the data gathering process to make sure it’s clean and safe.