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Germany Demands Google Forfeit Citizens' Wi-Fi Data

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the forfeited-trust dept.

Google 318

eldavojohn writes "Germany has ordered Google to give up hard disk drives used to store German data collected during their Street View operations in that country. This follows Google's admission last week (after prodding from the Germans) that it had collected the data from unsecured wireless area networks from around the entire world as its roving cars collected the photo archive for Street View. Google says they've offered to just destroy the data, in cooperation with national regulators, but the German government wants to know what they've collected. They do not think that destroying the drives suffices for compliance with the laws. Officials went so far as to say of the situation, 'It is not acceptable that a company operating in the EU does not respect EU rules.' Germany has certainly been keeping their eye on the search giant." The Ars coverage notes that the US FTC may be looking more closely at Google's collection as well.

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Privacy laws (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32255908)

I seriously hope more EU countries will demand the same thing. It's outrageous
how Google blatantly breaks laws, especially privacy ones, and get nothing for it.

Whoever in the EU parliament will impose big fines for Google breaking privacy laws gets my vote. It seems it's the only way Google will learn. They have previously too pissed of Germany on privacy issues [slashdot.org] .

US may not do the same, but Europeans take privacy seriously. We have had our governments to completely different agendas many times in the history. It also doesn't help one thing that Google is an US company and US government can get access to all of our data even while those people aren't US citizens. Don't use Google services you say? That's a little bit hard when they have their cars driving around sniffing web traffic.

Viviane Reding, the European justice commissioner, criticized Google for not cooperating with German privacy officials.

"It is not acceptable that a company operating in the E.U. does not respect E.U. rules," she said in a statement released by her office.

This is what Google should learn.

Re:Privacy laws (5, Insightful)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32255986)

Hate to say it but if you have an unsecured wireless network you are freely broadcasting your data over the airwaves for anyone to listen. Laws are not the solution to this, proper security is. I can't walk out on my porch and yell sensitive information then fine you for having heard it.

MOD PARENT UP!! (0)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256062)

Absolutely correct, and good analogy

Re:MOD PARENT UP!! (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256600)

Nonsense. This was a terrible analogy.

The correct analogy on Slashdot is:

I can't walk out on my porch and yell sensitive information then fine anyone driving by in a car for having heard it.

There. Much better.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256136)

But they can fine you for recording and distributing it (which is what Google is doing). Like a radio scanner that can pick up cell phone calls. Sure you listen, but you can never (legally) disseminate the information; even if you hear someone planning a murder.

Re:Privacy laws (1, Informative)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256352)

and distributing it (which is what Google is doing)

Show me where they're distributing it. From everything I've heard, Google is the one that said "Oops, we got this stuff by mistake & are going to delete it as soon as we let everyone know". Go read the man pages for Kismet, sounds like that's what they were using & didn't turn off the data collection option.

Re:Privacy laws (-1, Redundant)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256470)

Google is the one that said "Oops, we got this stuff by mistake & are going to delete it as soon as we let everyone know".

If police came knocking on my door and said I'm under investigation for downloading child porn, you think it would be ok for me to say "don't worry, it was a mistake and I'm going to be deleting it soon" and they wouldn't want my computer and hard drives to investigate it?

Besides, German police didn't want all of their data. They wanted one hard drive so they could investigate what Google has done, if they have broken laws and if they should get fines for it, and probably disallowing further scanning. You know, investigation is what law enforcement does when someone has broke the laws.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256610)

If police came knocking on my door and said I'm under investigation for downloading child porn, you think it would be ok for me to say "don't worry, it was a mistake and I'm going to be deleting it soon" and they wouldn't want my computer and hard drives to investigate it?

Sure, they'd want it. But I also don't think it should be a crime to possess child porn, and the attempt to censor it has a corrosive effect on freedom of speech and net neutrality.

Re:Privacy laws (2, Insightful)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256656)

If police came knocking on my door and said I'm under investigation for downloading child porn

Again, that isn't what occurred. This would be like you walking into the police station saying "Hey, an automated script on my computer downloaded child porn, when I meant to download anime. Going to go delete it now."

Besides, German police didn't want all of their data. They wanted one hard drive

You clearly have no understanding how RAID, SANs, or databases work. One hard drive will have nothing readable on it.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256390)

not sure where you got the distributing it; the only distribution is to the German Government, and only if forced to do so legally. Clearly Google just wants the MAC addresses to have as a GPS backup in the future, the data would have little interest to them, and wasn't intentionally recorded (according to Google, which is believable.)

Re:Privacy laws (2)

DangerFace (1315417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256458)

But they can fine you for recording and distributing it (which is what Google is doing)

Wait, what? Where can I get this information? Where is it being distributed? IIRC, they just used some old bit of wireless network scanning software and happened to pick up more than they meant to. I don't exactly like Google having all my personal information, but thinking that Google gives some kind of massive shit about a few people's unsecured information is is definitely in the tinfoil hat zone.

If I had to, what I would class this as is the same as if you were walking down the street with a digital recorder, coming up with ideas for some sort of article you were writing about the area. While walking along talking into this digital recorder, creating files that will be sanitized and refactored before ever seeing the light of day, someone shouts some personal information. Then the German government gets all pissy about it and demands you hand over the tapes, and the FTC start an investigation.

Seriously guys, there are problems with Google. There are. This is not one of them, though.

Like a radio scanner that can pick up cell phone calls. Sure you listen, but you can never (legally) disseminate the information; even if you hear someone planning a murder.

So this implies that listening is ok? since that's all Google is doing, I fail to see the problem.

Re:Privacy laws (0, Redundant)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256190)

There's nothing wrong with laws also giving fines for misusing the unsecured connections and sniffing the traffic in it.

And as it is, it's currently unlawful. You can say that proper security is needed (it is), but the fact is that Google broke laws.

Your home connection to your ISP is also mostly unsecured. Would it be ok for me to tap into that? After all, you weren't using encrypted VPN or encrypted connection to your ISP, so it's only your own fault, right? I didn't think so.

Re:Privacy laws (5, Insightful)

chaboud (231590) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256278)

There's a massive difference between wired communication and wireless. If you honestly can't see that (which I truly doubt is the case), you could be in the parliament of an EU member state!

Seriously, security is the answer to security. Making it illegal to detect and record open-air RF is like making it illegal to see things.

Re:Privacy laws (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256340)

Making it illegal to detect and record open-air RF is like making it illegal to see things..

Only if you have naturally developed wi-fi receiving capability. I'd consider a laser microphone to be breaching my privacy, and possibly infra-red cameras and binoculars in certain circumstances.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256748)

Ah, so you're saying that if you broadcast something unencrypted into the general vicinity, it's illegal to perceive it unless you can do so without the aid of any kind of equipment external to your body itself? Damn it, that means you could paint a mural of sensitive information on your driveway and since I'm severely nearsighted, if I look at it (with my glasses on so I could potentially read it) I've broken the law?

Re:Privacy laws (4, Insightful)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256428)

And as it is, it's currently unlawful.

What Google did to the data is exactly the same thing you have done if you've ever recorded video or audio in a public place. You have data (sound and images) of people in public. If these people had unsecured wireless, they were sending their data into the street for the world to hear.

Re:Privacy laws (0)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256302)

I can't walk out on my porch and yell sensitive information then fine you for having heard it.

Only because you're not the government.

Re:Privacy laws (3, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256570)

I have to agree. While it's great that the European countries take privacy seriously, there is a real problem here. If someone transmits radio waves into public space - heck, into your house, your car and through your body - just how can any sensible person say you do not have a right to receive those radio waves? This is especially ridiculous outcomes in the case of wireless networks, since practically every European citizen carries a wireless receiver (in their mobile phone) all the time. There can be no expectation of privacy here.

As a related anecdote, Google has gotten in trouble in Switzerland because their camera is mounted higher than a person's normal eye level. This is a much more valid complaint, as it means that the camera occasionally sees over hedges and fences and into windows that people did reasonably consider to be out of the public view.

Re:Privacy laws (2, Insightful)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256578)

How wrong you are. Open Wi-Fi is like an open window in your house - just because you leave the window open doesn't mean its okay for anybody to climb in and "have a look around".

Most people know that its generally a bad idea to have unsecured Wi-Fi, just as its a bad idea to leave your windows open in a bad neighborhood. One person's stupidity doesn't give another the right to take advantage.

Re:Privacy laws (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256630)

Hate to say it but if you have an unsecured wireless network you are freely broadcasting your data over the airwaves for anyone to listen. Laws are not the solution to this, proper security is. I can't walk out on my porch and yell sensitive information then fine you for having heard it.

No it's more like doing something private in your living room with your window open and Google coming to your window and recording it.

Re:Privacy laws (0, Redundant)

dbet (1607261) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256676)

And yet, if I drive through your neighborhood and write down the time of day everyone leaves and gets home, how many kids they have, you can bet I'd be getting a visit from the police.

On a side note, for a long time cordless phones were completely unsecured, and anyone with a scanner could listen to conversations. The law was very clear - you could listen but never discuss what was being said.

Would a similar law for wireless traffic work? I don't think seeing a wireless network or even using it should be a crime, but recording IP addresses, tracking what ports are open, how many computers are connected, and most importantly, keeping a database of it, could be illegal.

Re:Privacy laws (5, Insightful)

Monty845 (739787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32255994)

You want the data turned over to the government? That is the absolute last thing I would want if google inappropriately collected my wifi activity. The government should supervise the destruction, not be given the data set to do with as they please...

Re:Privacy laws (1, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256044)

It's against the law in Germany to have unsecured wireless networks. Since Google has already collected all this information for the German government they simply want to start handing out fines based on it. "Google, helping any way we can (TM)"

Re:Privacy laws (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256174)

It's against the law in Germany to have unsecured wireless networks. Since Google has already collected all this information for the German government they simply want to start handing out fines based on it. "Google, helping any way we can (TM)"

It is not against the law to have an unsecured wireless network there so far as I know. You can however be fined if someone else uses your unsecured wireless to download copyrighted materials [geek.com] .

From the above:

A recent German court ruling states that if someone downloads illegal movies, music, or other media using an unprotected WiFi connection, the owner of the WiFi source could be fined up to 100 Euros (about $126)

Re:Privacy laws (-1, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256234)

>>>against the law in Germany to have unsecured wireless networks.

Really? Well then that really calls into question the Government's motives. ("Heil!") Are they policing a naughty corporation, or are they seeking to use the data themselves to punish citizens. ("Heil!") The people at Google should do the right thing and destroy the drives immediately, rather than turn it over to the German Protective Squadron. ("Sig heil!") Wunderbar.
 

Re:Privacy laws (1, Flamebait)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256112)

Agreed. I trust Google a lot more to do the right thing and destroy the data than the German government. Who's track record is better?

Re:Privacy laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256166)

i dunno, remember when google killed all those jews? oh wait...

Re:Privacy laws (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256262)

Germany as it is after WWII isn't exactly the same Germany it was before it. Allies set up the new government, laws and everything else. In fact, I think it taught a lot of Germans and other Europeans the need for privacy.

Besides, Hitler was really from Austria, not Germany.

Re:Privacy laws (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256540)

Are you for real? Germany have been a beacon of democracy in Europe since World War II ended, a driving force in the European Community and have actually outlawed the movement you refer to, which started almost 78 years ago and was crushed to death 13 years later. 13 is, incidentally, just how long Google have been in business. You should be modded down as an ignorant troll, not given virtual pats on the back from other ignorant trolls.

Besides, Google's track record is infinitely worse than the German government's during Google's short lifespan.

P.S.: it's "whose", not "who's".

Re:Privacy laws (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256582)

Who's track record is better?

In recent years? EU governments (or Germany in particular) vs. US corporations (or Google in particular)? Seriously?

Europeans have learned some hard lessons from history, some of them still within living memory. One of them is a healthy distrust of government; you may have noticed that we have removed several formerly powerful administrations from office in recent years. But another is that the US does not hold its businesses to account very effectively. Thus, we tend to take a rather stricter line with big business in many respects, privacy and data protection among them.

As long as it is the privacy/data protection authorities who are arranging the destruction of the data (and potentially bringing legal action against Google), and not any other branch of government who have no more legitimate right to access that data than Google, I would far rather the drives were removed from Google's hands.

By my count (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256722)

Germany is currently 2 up on Google in the 'starting world wars' category.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256382)

You want the data turned over to the government? That is the absolute last thing I would want if google inappropriately collected my wifi activity. The government should supervise the destruction, not be given the data set to do with as they please...

If you'd actually read the article you would notice that they only wanted one hard drive to see what kind of data Google had collected and if they were breaking laws, and if they should be fined for it and told to stop doing so.

You know, police usually needs evidence so it can actually investigate and come to conclusion. Google refusing and destroying evidence is breaking even more laws and doesn't really show that Google is acting lawfully.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256480)

Good luck "supervising destruction" in a modern sense. Other than attempting to verify that the data has been deleted, what are you going to do? If this is stored anywhere in Google's cloud, chances are they'd have to copy it to a hard drive first, before being able to hand it all over. Then what, destroy that hard drive?

You're just not getting it: (1)

You'reJustSlashFlock (1708024) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256006)

Microsoft = Evil

Google = Good

That's why we have the Borg King visage fo Microsoft and the friendly Google logo for Google.

Re:Privacy laws (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256052)

I seriously hope more EU countries will demand the same thing. It's outrageous

Actually, I kind of agree with Google's position about destroying it.

I mean, it boils down to "you have collected something which is illegal and invasive to have ... why don't you give it to us and we'll, er, keep it safe."

I agree that if Google is actually scraping people's email and stuff from unsecured wireless that's a huge invasion of privacy and is a very bad thing. But, handing the same information over to a government who wouldn't be allowed to have it either doesn't seem any better.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

Josef Meixner (1020161) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256736)

I mean, it boils down to "you have collected something which is illegal and invasive to have ... why don't you give it to us and we'll, er, keep it safe."

No, it boils down to "you have told us you take photos from public places of houses, then you have to admit, that you also collect MAC-addresses and SSIDs (which you 'forgot' to mention when we talked about it) and then just two weeks later you tell us, 'whoops, we also collected some mails and some web sessions, sorry' and now we want to see, what you have collected, as we don't see any more reason to trust you".

And in case you wonder, it is possible that Google broke the privacy laws, which in Germany also apply to unencrypted communication and might be liable. Courts here have ruled, that the Apache logfile also violates privacy, as it is not legal to gather privacy related data on people without their consent and without a specific reason justified by legal provisions or necessary to do your business. You also have to delete the data when it is no longer needed.

In any case, should Google actually have broken the law, then the charge for it would 2 to 5 years, but it is not entirely clear, if the law applies, because you have to prove intent and who knows how long this could drag on.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256056)

US may not do the same, but Europeans take privacy seriously.

If you stand on a street corner and yell back and forth at your neighbor across the street, is somebody standing 100 feet away from you with a tape recorder capturing your conversation violating your privacy?

That's exactly what Google was doing with their wireless capture. I can't say I really like it, but at the same time I also can't say they were violating privacy. If I want to have a private conversation I stop yelling or start using encryption.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256236)

It's not exactly what Google were doing. You need at least some equipment to even "hear" what the people are saying. Most people, if aware that the communication is taking place, would have the decency not to listen. I'll grant you it's a public place, but it's closer to recording a conversation between two people. If I put a microphone under a restaurant table I think most people would consider that invading their privacy.

Re:Privacy laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256574)

That "some eqipment" is more generally available than the microphone in your analogy.
And Google had the decency to not listen. In your analogy - again - they just forgot the mic on.

This entire affair has blown into ridiculous proportions.

Re:Privacy laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256106)

I'm glad that Google got caught, and will hopefully be prevented from doing it again in the future, but I'd rather the drives were just destroyed than have them turned over to the government.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

joelsanda (619660) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256280)

I seriously hope more EU countries will demand the same thing.

Couldn't that mean more copies of that data floating around? I think the best solution is to keep what they have sequestrated and secured (whatever the hell that means these days) so it's at least in one place, assuming that's the state of the data now. If that's the case and I knew I had data like that collected by Google, I'd want the single source destroyed with appropriate folks watching. If nothing else we'll see some geeks dressed up watching a few servers go up in flames, or get to watch CNN broadcast a terminal window processing rm -r yourdir.

Re:Privacy laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256310)

So how come that parent isnt modded 'Troll' or 'Flamebait' ? All Google ever did was take photographs of people in *public* places *and* made sure that the faces were unrecognizable too, so what's the problem ?

Re:Privacy laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256330)

It's so true that entities operating inside the EU should abide by EU rules. Like how Germany kept its deficit below 3%... Oh wait it didn't and now Greece has followed suit with disastrous results. Why is it again that Germany has such a problem with streetview in the first place? Oh yeah its because they're frightened that hooligans (i.e. Turks) will come and rob their houses after seeing them on the internet. Score 1 for privacy.

Re:Privacy laws (-1, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256354)

>>>hope more EU countries will demand the same thing

Yeah because we can trust the Fourth Reich with our private data. They have demonstrated themselves to be completely trustworthy in the past.

Re:Privacy laws (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256484)

I seriously hope more EU countries will demand the same thing. It's outrageous
how Google blatantly breaks laws, especially privacy ones, and get nothing for it.

Blatantly? Others more knowledgeable than me have suggested that this was an honest mistake. Furthermore, this may be reading too much into the summary's language, but this part sounds fishy

the German government wants to know what they've collected. They do not think that destroying the drives suffices for compliance with the laws.

Are we to understand that the german government has made laws and isn't exactly sure on what's legal and not legal according to those laws? Because if they don't know, how the hell would Google know how to abide by those laws.

Furthermore, why are you upset with google rather than the hypocrites in office who are clearly using this to bypass their own privacy laws? This is a bit like a cop busting a drug dealer and taking and selling the drugs himself, and you're mad at the drug dealer.

What??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32255938)

What happened to "Do No Evil"?

Its become "Do No Evil (*)"

(*) Except on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, after 4pm, if it makes us lots of money or if we just cant be bothered with our fake holier than thou image.

Re:What??? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32255996)

(*) Except on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, after 4pm, if it makes us lots of money or if we just cant be bothered with our fake holier than thou image.

Since today is Tuesday, Google must not be evil today. See ya' tomorrow!

Re:What??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256046)

(*) Except on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, after 4pm, if it makes us lots of money or if we just cant be bothered with our fake holier than thou image.

Re:What??? (0, Troll)

Torodung (31985) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256220)

What happened to "Do No Evil"?

It was replaced by "initial public offering."

You didn't see that one coming?

--
Toro

Re:What??? (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256476)

What happened to "Do No Evil"?

Nothing ever happened to it, it never meant anything to begin with. It was just yet more crap [huffingtonpost.com] spewed out by a corporate officer to make himself and his company look like white-hats when they're really no different than any other corporation.

Re:What??? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256564)

What happened to "Do No Evil"?

Its become "Do No Evil (*)"

(*)intentionally

It was a mistake. Mistakes happen no matter what your intentions. Prove to me google was trying to profit off of this or shut up.

Germany giving orders (-1, Troll)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32255962)

Germany giving orders? Do they think they won or something?

Re:Germany giving orders (1)

Trevelyan (535381) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256120)

You're obviously not a British football fan...

Great News! (4, Funny)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32255968)

Oh good. I was worried it would end up in the wrong hands.

Re:Great News! (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#32255990)

My thoughts exactly, how does giving the wifi data to a government solve anything. I'm sure there is plenty of spook agencies that love this kind of stuff.

Re:Great News! (1)

Gravitron 5000 (1621683) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256092)

You answered your own question. It solves the problem of the government needing a warrant/subpoena to get their hands on this data.

Re:Great News! (0, Redundant)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256298)

They only wanted one HDD to see what kind of data Google collected, not all of them.

Re:Great News! (2, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256142)

My thoughts exactly, how does giving the wifi data to a government solve anything.

So they can determine whether google did anything wrong, and if so, google can be punished to prevent them or somebody else from repeating this in the figure. (What, too obvious?)

As for the other concerns, do you really think prosecutions of private citizens will arise from this? I don't. But I do think the govt. should collect just enough of the drives, say a randomly selected 1%, to determine what actually happened.

Re:Great News! (2, Insightful)

chaboud (231590) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256380)

Google's already freely stipulated that they did something wrong. If they're willing to admit that they broke the law and collected this data, then why would the German government still need this data?

Oh, that's right, only because it's a treasure-trove of never-needed-a-warrant-in-the-first-place data.

An independent auditor is the nearest thing we'll get to fair inspection of this, but they'll just hand that crap over to the government, anyway. Let's face it:

1. This data is most probably completely useless junk.
2. On the off chance that there are little nuggets of valuable information in this data-set, the only way to safeguard the individuals who had their data recorded is to delete every copy of it.

The EU's prevailing belief, that businesses tend towards malfeasance and must be held in check by the government, is a valid one. The founding American belief, that governments tend towards malfeasance and must be held in check by the people, is also valid. Google's trepidation certainly seems more populist than corporatist in this case.

Hmmm (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32255980)

Google [has] until May 26 to hand over one of the hard drives that it had used to collect and store information in Germany, where Street View is not yet available.

Through a spokesman, Google reiterated its offer to destroy the WLAN data in conjunction with regulators, but stopped short of saying it would hand over a hard drive, which would allow regulators to see for the first time what kind of data had been collected.

So they're happy to "destroy" is but don't want to turn it over so Germany can see exactly what they were gathering? Smells fishy to me.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256108)

Or they would rather not hand it out. It's not as if it would be hard to destroy the parts they didn't want anyone to know about, anyway.

Re:Hmmm (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256224)

Not to mention, they want the hard drives turned over? They've never heard of, you know.. copying?

So, rather than work with google to make sure all data is destroyed, regardless of whether it was copied, they'd rather google just give them the hard drives.. cause then.. what?

Re:Hmmm (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256342)

"they'd rather google just give them the hard drives.. cause then.. what?"

... Profit!

Re:Hmmm (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256580)

Whats fishy about it at all?

If the issue is privacy - Google is more than willing to destroy it, simple as that.

If the issue is the German Government not having it - they can go and collect this information themselves. Google put in the effort to record the data. Nothing is stopping an arm of the Government from doing the same thing. Google would be foolish to just give it away. That would essentially be wasting their time and money. I bet if they were offered money for the data, they'd consider it.

Really, there is nothing suspicious about Google's actions, but actually in the Government. It seems to me that they want to invade your privacy just as much as Google has, without doing any of the work.

That is - if you even considered this an invasion of privacy. I don't really think it is. Shouting out my journal from the rooftops isn't something I'd do if I didn't want people to hear it.

Google isn't evil (2, Funny)

SigILL (6475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256042)

Google is actually doing a good thing: now I don't have to remember the password for my wireless network; any Android device can automatically look it up on Google's servers.

Thanks, Google!

Re:Google isn't evil (0)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256188)

Huh? How would their servers have your Wi-Fi password if they were only collecting information from unprotected (as in people who don't bother to enable any form of security/password on their router) access points?

Re:Google isn't evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256318)

Apple didn't make a search engine, but google made a cell phone, so fuck google, let them rot!

Think Different
Think Better
Think Apple

Re:Google isn't evil (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256386)

If your wireless network was open, how would there be a password?

Wait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256054)

So the German government, protector of all things privacy-related, wants a copy of the data before it's destroyed? Why? The laws they say were violated don't apply to them, huh?

If they want to snoop on citizens of other countries there's much better ways of doing it. They don't see any irony in getting upset over mistaken data collection then demanding that data for themselves?

Some serious issues here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256064)

If Google acted as a reasonable company run by reasonable people, they would immediately upon discovering this have collected all the hard drives, locked them in a vault with a third party providing a second pair of eyes, and invited the privacy commissioners of every affected country to inspect the data immediately before it's fed into a shredder.

That they didn't is somehow very, very worrying.

A few things. (4, Insightful)

chaboud (231590) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256070)

1. If you run an unencrypted 802.11 network, expect your data to get pwned.
2. It was an accident of code reuse (seriously, guys, code-reuse accidents happen quite often).
3. If people were just casually using the internet, https saved their stupid little asses from letting their data out in the wild.
4. Why do we trust the German government (or any EU government, for that matter) with this data more than we trust Google? I know that the EU is better about not giving companies a blank check, but let's not forget about the kind of crap that governments pull. This is a surveillance freebie, provided that the illicit persons being surveilled are professional idiots (i.e. had an open network).

Google screwed up, but has the Google-hatred here risen to such a high degree that we're okay with just handing over even accidentally-collected data to the government? I'd at least insist on an independent auditor, to make sure that government abuses of the data didn't take place. With Google's resources, I'd go so far as to take it to the (largely impotent) EU court of human rights.

Re:A few things. (1)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256300)

It all revolves around the question: how much do you trust Google? If one is operating on the assumptions that a) this isn't the end-all of Google's illicit data-mining, and b) that not all (if any) of it is accidental, there's a strong precedent to be set here. At least, in the public's hands, an independent audit is possible.

I'd say we should be more concerned about the crap private companies can pull (a problem we can't solve) with the crap that governments pull (a problem we can solve, in theory).

Re:A few things. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256436)

accidental code reuse? Seriously, are you a retard? Hey, I hope you don't mind if some niggers "accidentally" rape your fat white ass.

Re:A few things. (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256460)

I don't even see why this is illegal. As far as I can tell, they recorded what access points were broadcasting, from a public space. What's the big deal here? You (Germany) believe you have an expectation of privacy when you are loudly broadcasting to the four corners a welcome to connect?

Re:A few things. (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256710)

Why do we trust the German government (or any EU government, for that matter) with this data more than we trust Google?

When has the German government ever used information on its citizens for something bad? Oh, yeah, I remember now....

Oh i get it. (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256118)

Google collected broadcast data by accident, but as yet has not violated my privacy.

So the German government wants Google to violate my privacy by giving my data to the German government.

Which is (as many have pointed out) exactly who i want to be protected from when I decide to consider my data private.

Germany needs to be sat down in the back of the EU with a tall, cone-shaped hat on its head. Again.

Re:Oh i get it. (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256272)

Right, but users like sopssa (1498795) who irrationally hate Google will support this sort of privacy violation in the name of supporting privacy. This is the point where rationality has been lost and the zealousness takes over.

Re:Oh i get it. (2, Interesting)

tokul (682258) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256276)

Google collected broadcast data by accident, but as yet has not violated my privacy.

It violated your privacy. If we follow your line of though, then spies don't violate your privacy. Privacy is violated only by those who get your information from spies. Spies themselves have nothing to do with it. ... Right

Re:Oh i get it. (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256494)

You consider someone with a laptop spying on you? Any laptop w/ wireless can see this information, it is being broadcast to a public space.

Re:Oh i get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256678)

Spies -almost by definition- do not spontaneously admit to spying and apologize for it publicly.
By abduction - your analogy sucks.

Re:Oh i get it. (1)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256322)

Google collected broadcast data by accident, but as yet has not violated my privacy.

Says who? Google?

Getting punished for "doing the right thing" (2, Interesting)

Valacosa (863657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256122)

It's sad that Google is getting punished for "doing the right thing" and being honest about their screw-up.

Google: Oops! We accidentally collected all this data we weren't supposed to. Sorry, but we thought you should know. We'll just be deleting* that now... Germany: NO! You don't respect EU laws! Turn that data over!

If Google had just kept quiet and didn't admit their wrongdoing, nobody would have known about the issue, and there wouldn't be any of the wrangling we see now. But should a company keep quiet whenever it fucks up? A culture of denial is worse. It's sad, because it's exactly this sort of persecution which creates a culture where companies never admit anything, ever.

* Except the legal department probably advised them against deleting the data right after the confession, just in case something like this happened.

Re:Getting punished for "doing the right thing" (5, Insightful)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256336)

Google: Oops! We accidentally collected all this data we weren't supposed to. Sorry, but we thought you should know.

But that's not what has happened *at all*. From the article of the slashdot story this story links to:

The Internet giant said it would stop collecting Wi-Fi data from its StreetView vans, which workers drive to capture street images and to locate Wi-Fi networks. The company said it would dispose of the data it had accidentally collected.

Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research for Google, wrote in a blog post that the company uncovered the mistake while responding to a German data-protection agency's request for it to audit the Wi-Fi data, amid mounting concerns that Google's practices violated users' privacy.

They're basically saying "let's just forget anything happened" by offering to delete the data. Uh-nuh, not really how it works. If they didn't pay attention and ran software that violated privacy laws, they should be punished. THEN we can delete the data...

it's exactly this sort of persecution which creates a culture where companies never admit anything, ever.

What are you talking about? What "persecution"? If they violated laws, they get punished. Where's the problem? I'd rather have corporations involuntarily investigated, than then "admitting their wrongdoings" and there being no consequences for it.

Soon irrelavent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256164)

Hi,

We have given you our last copy [slashdot.org] , we swear.

Signed,
Google

Has no one asked... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256196)

Has no one asked, WHY they were collecting at all?
Aren't the Google Camera Cars for creating street navigation & visual reference?

When does sniffing for data even enter the equation at all?

Re:Has no one asked... (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256384)

it's something about finding the location of wi-fi hotspots.

Surrender your data or else. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256212)

Germany Demands Google Forfeit Citizens' Wi-Fi Data

Surrender the data? Let me Google [google.fr] this.

Mr. Googurns (0, Flamebait)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256232)

""Oooh, the Germans are mad at me... I'm so scared! Oooooh, the Germans...Uh oh...The Germans are coming after me... Oh, don't let the Germans come after me... Oh, the Germans are coming after me... No, they're so big and strong... Protect me from the Germans!"

Re:Mr. Googurns (1)

MattGWU (86623) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256644)

Please stop pretending you are scared of us, please, now.

Norm MacDonald (2, Funny)

Torodung (31985) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256254)

Germany has certainly been keeping their eye on the search giant.

Or so the Germans would have us believe.

--
Toro

First time that shtick's ever been funny and accurate.

Who wouldn't want the data? (1)

robwgibbons (1455507) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256260)

I'd be willing to bet lots of governments would love to use this opportunity just to examine the WiFi data.

Didn't Germany Just Fine Someone For Open Wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256370)

This could be the German government grabbing at free data on open wireless (for people to fine, etc.). I think they may be more interested in free data for their own devices than 'protecting the public.'

Is this an EU rule or a German rule? (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256400)

If it is EU-wide, why is Germany the only country making any noise about it?

Re:Is this an EU rule or a German rule? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256444)

Because they are the only ones who have laws that allow them to prosecute people with open wifi as contributing to copyright infringment.

Germany just wants to collect more fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256442)

After the story posted last Thursday [slashdot.org] about Germany fining someone for having an unprotected network, I have a feeling they only want this data so they can fine more people.

Fine Google! (1)

ThoughtMonster (1602047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256478)

Google should be fined for doing the government's job without a licence.

Now gimme that data!

I don't get it. (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256552)

I don't get it. Why the big fuss? It is a car with cameras and wifi driving down public streets taking a snapshot of time. It is one of the coolest projects mankind has ever done. We can go anywhere in the world without leaving our desks. The information is very useful. Why are governments getting in the way of this? It is a fantastic and useful tool.

Jack Sparrow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32256612)

Good for Germany! I have more confidence in the German Goverment that in Google.

So... (1)

gaderael (1081429) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256634)

...Who's going to keep an eye on Germany when the data is in their hands? I'd rather Google have it than the government.

Data-collection rule 101 (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 4 years ago | (#32256646)

I used to think that grabbing & keeping 'everything' was good.
But these days I advise my clients to not collect and/or store more data than they absolutely need, and/or are authorised to do.
This is as dumb as merchants and others (illegally) holding your bank or credit-card data.
Google wants 'maps / streetview' to localise you more precisely if you have not GPS by linking your location to a Wifi SSID as well as just the cell towers?
Great, good idea. Not evil.
But why the heck do they need to collect the network traffic and not just the SSID and Lat & Long?
They don't....

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