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Congressman Steps Up Pressure On Google, Facebook

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the play-nice-now dept.

Google 120

crimeandpunishment and other readers noted the US government's increasing pressure on Facebook and Google. On Friday the head of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, sent the two companies a letter asking them to cooperate with any government inquiries. It's not clear exactly what purpose the letter served, other than to make Google's and Facebook's lawyers squirm a bit more than they already were, with Germany and courts and the FTC looking hard in their direction; Conyers did not say his committee will be holding hearings. The FTC just asked Google to hold onto the Wi-Fi data that it says it accidentally collected while snapping Street View photos. And in response to the growing outcry since its F8 conference last month, Facebook offered some simplified privacy controls — though opinions vary on how much the new controls simplify things for users.

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Like XKCD on 'roids! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32393498)

This is priceless: http://goatkcd.com/746/sfw [goatkcd.com]

Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (2)

Loupis (1822144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393504)

How do you accidently collect wi-fi data through Street View photos?

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393584)

How do you accidently collect wi-fi data through Street View photos?

That was a poorly written summary. You can read through the many Slashdot stories which covered Google's logging of wifi data if you need more info.

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (4, Informative)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 4 years ago | (#32395746)

Or, you could have just answered his question in a sentence or two. From what I have read, Google was collecting publicly broadcast SSIDs on purpose to help with geo-location and their Maps service. However they (claim) the code they used to gather this data was accidentally cut an paste from a research project that demonstrated how much more than just SSIDs could be captured.

So while they were hoping for grabbing just this:

getSSID();

they got

getSSID();
getAllSnifableTraffic();

This is an oversimplification-guesstimate, but I think makes the claim more understandable. Are they telling the truth? Hard to say. Certainly we've all seen cut and paste errors in code like that. But you'd also think if someone was using code from a project designed to actually sniff traffic they would know to be careful what they cut and paste. So while it seems a bit fishy, it's absolutely plausible the whole thing was just an accident.

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (1, Offtopic)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32395850)

Or, you could have just answered his question in a sentence or two.

To do so would have been encouraging intellectual laziness. I expect the average Slashdotter to make a modicum of effort to educate themselves rather than posting a stupid question. In the time it took to ask the question and wait for an answer, the OP could have learned a fair bit and then come back with an interesting question instead of a stupid one.

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (2, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 4 years ago | (#32397300)

That's awfully presumptuous. Maybe he had read other articles and did not fully understand them, maybe he didn't have the time. Maybe it's just good to have the answer right below the summary which, as you noticed, lacks the proper background for someone new to the story.

Really though, maybe if we spent a little less time telling each other to RTFM and a little more sharing info, we could save a lot of nonsense back and fourth like this.

I know you're trying to teach him to fish, but I'd like to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they will want to teach themselves to fish. They aren't going to go look something up because you called their question stupid.

Maybe it's about time we broke the stereotype of tech-people being unapproachable and snobbish in their unwillingness to tolerate those that know less than they do, no?

Maybe you could have given him the answer and suggest he look more deeply into it on his own next time?

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (3, Informative)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393706)

The cameras are hooked up to a computer. The computer has wifi. The cars have GPS. All of the logs for each of these are synchronized since they are all on the same computer. So if your wifi logging happens to be detailed enough you could definitely "accidentally" collect that data just by having the wifi on with a default of connecting to any open network.

Does anyone know what these computers in the Street View cars were running OS wise? Hardware wise?

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (1)

Loupis (1822144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393802)

Google Chrome?

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (2, Informative)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394030)

So if your wifi logging happens to be detailed enough you could definitely "accidentally" collect that data just by having the wifi on with a default of connecting to any open network.

They did not connect to anybodies network. They simply sniffed over the air broadcasts. They did not actively do anything.

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (1, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394350)

They simply sniffed over the air broadcasts. They did not actively do anything.

"Sniffing" sounds active to me. Storing the data is definitely active.

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394528)

If I take a voice recorder with me as I walk down the street and use it to dictate the things I need to pick up at the store, I will also record what other people who walk by say. I will also record 1/2 of what some people say on there cell phones. (because they talk loud) This is against the law some places.

I am guessing they just recorded full unencrypted packet expecting to grep out the SSID's later...

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394538)

Clearly you don't know what "Sniffing" means.

Could you also explain how storing data is "active".

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32396038)

Could you also explain how storing data is "active".

If it costs money, it's active.

Are you saying storage is free?

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (1)

melstav (174456) | more than 4 years ago | (#32396730)

Nope. Sorry. You fail.

It's active if someone actually had to act with intent.

If all they had to do is start a service that by default sent its output to syslog, that's definitely passive.

Besides, disk is cheap.

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394398)

Actually the did actively commit a crime...wardriving is illegal in many states!

Re:Accidentally or Tactically Aquired data (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394536)

No it's not.

WiFi data for geolocation? (1)

kiwix (1810960) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394738)

Maybe they collect WiFi data on purpose for their geolocation service?

FTC? (1)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393534)

Why does the FTC want Google to hold on to that data?

Re:FTC? (2, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393636)

Data mine it for information on terrorists. Duh.

Re:FTC? (1)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393828)

Oh, snap. I better destroy all my equipment before the Federal Government catches on to my mission to the weaknesses in security in and around Washington DC and New York city...namely Bill Clinton's bedrooms.

Re:FTC? (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394924)

I doubt there's much going on in there anymore. She definitely should have had him neutered by now.

Re:FTC? (3, Informative)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393878)

Uh so the evidence isn't destroyed obviously. Presumably because the FTC is investigating.

Jews for Nerds! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32393582)

Jews, also known as kikes, hebes, hymies, yids, gold niggers, oven magnets, hook noses, sheenies, swindlers, criminals, "firewood", and Arabs in denial are a subhuman species of reptilian extra-terrestrials and adherents to one of the world's oldest major religions, called "Judaism", otherwise known as "The Worship of Money" or "Eating Arab Babies".

Judaism was the world's first master race theory. The Jew religion teaches that Jews are the Chosen People of God and that there is a sacred mystical quality to Jew DNA. In olden times, Jew prophets would, under the command of YHWH, frequently lead the Jews on genocidal rampages against neighboring populations, and even today Jew leaders often cite Jewish religious ideals to justify their ongoing genocide of sandniggers. Judaism ironically found its mirror-image inversion in the anti-Jew Aryan racialism of the Nazis.

Despite only being 0.22% of the world's population, Jews control 99% of the world's money. Not only do the Jews control the world, but also the media, the banks, the space program, and LiveJournal's porn communities and Gay communities. All Jews possess the following features: an extremely large nose, fake boobs, curly hair that reeks of faggotry, one of those gay hats, a love of coke, a law practice, a roll of money, a small cock, or shitty taste in dental hygiene.

Jews invented both Communism and Capitalism. Karl Marx, of course, was a Jew, which was why he understood money so well, and in fact he was converted to Communism by another Jew, Moses Hess, the actual founder of Zionism, who ghost-wrote Marx's The German Ideology. Capitalism was created when Christian Europeans threw away their morals and decided to embrace Jewish practices like usury (see: John Calvin). Jews were the first group to create a sophisticated banking system, which they used to fund the Crusades in order to pit Christians and Muslims (both adhering to religions derived from and controlled by Jews) against each other to kill as many people as possible in a macabre human sacrifice to YHWH.

The Jew banking system was based on fraud and lies, so when it inevitably collapsed, the Jews just pwned as many people as possible by unleashing the Black Plague on them. Later, Jews economically controlled medieval Venice (the first modern maritime trade empire), and then crypto-Jewish merchants economically controlled the Spanish Empire, including the slave trade. Openly Jewish bankers orchestrated the Dutch Empire and founded Jew Amsterdam (later Jew York). Later the Dutch Jews moved to London because they thought it would be a better base for a global empire, and actually brought a Dutch nobleman, William III, with them, who they installed in a coup d'état (more like Jew d'état, amirite?) as new King of the British Empire. For hundreds of years, Jewish bankers controlled global trade through their bases in Jew York City and London. European colonialism was, through its history, essentially a plot whereby Jews could gain control of gold and diamond mines in poor countries and increase their stranglehold over the global economy.

Jews also enjoy slicing up baby penises for fun, some even enjoy sucking them. See below.

Jews also created Jew search engine Google, so now they can find all Jew information on Internets.

Some suggest that we should use Jews instead of dogs to sniff out large amounts of concealed cash or anything else worth smuggling at airports due to their sensitive Jew noses. Obviously, this is a horrible idea, because the pay is bad, and the dirty Kikes would probably form a union and demand moar money, thus increasing the burden on taxpayers everywhere.

Re:Jews for Nerds! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32393652)

lollerskates. Next time, post to the Wikipedia article.

epic trolling is within your grasp.

Tooties Roll Pop! (-1, Offtopic)

Loupis (1822144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393586)

and most importantly how many licks does it take to get to the center of the tooties roll pop?

Re:Tooties Roll Pop! (1)

Loupis (1822144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393658)

Well i thought i was funny.

"It's not clear what purpose the letter served..." (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393600)

There is an election this fall.

Re:"It's not clear what purpose the letter served. (1)

cheatch (1713998) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393640)

campaigns fundraiser?

Re:"It's not clear what purpose the letter served. (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394006)

Close. It's part of the campaign itself: If you're an incumbent, it helps to appear to have done something during your term. But your constituents won't remember anything you did before march of the election year, if you're lucky. So, a cheap way to get cameral-cred is to be part of some kind of investigatory commission.

Like when the US congress thought it would be a good use of their time to interview every f'king baseball player to see if they'd ever used f'king steroids. Steroids. In sports. Considered important enough for f'king Congress to have weeks of hearings. Brilliant.

Anyway, stuff like this gets their name in the news for free which is even better than spending your hard-grifted campaign cash on advertising.

Re:"It's not clear what purpose the letter served. (2, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394044)

I wish they had spent more time on the steroid issue. It's a far less damaging way for them to spend their time than normal.

Re:"It's not clear what purpose the letter served. (4, Informative)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394070)

More likely to steer attention away from his wife who was a Detroit City Council member and is due for some jail time over (SURPRISE!) bribery charges.

Government (4, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393626)

So in government-land, the way to fix the problem of data accidentally collected is to order that said data be KEPT, instead of immediately deleted??

Re:Government (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32393672)

There is no data. We were never at war with Eurasia. Pick up that can citizen.

Re:Government (3, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393960)

For some reason, the United States is the only country on Earth where accidents don't happen – it's always somebody's fault, and you can sue that somebody for neglect.

Re:Government (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394448)

For some reason, the United States is the only country on Earth where accidents don't happen – it's always somebody's fault, and you can sue that somebody for neglect.

Only when "somebody" has money. When "somebody" is poor, or when "somebody" is the government and can't be sued, then it's really the fault of society and it can only be resolved by raising taxes on somebody else with money.

Re:Government (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#32395104)

Lolwut? You mixed up the poor and the rich.

When "somebody" is rich, or when "somebody" is the government and can't be sued, then it's really the fault of society and it can only be resolved by raising taxes on the poor.

Re:Government (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394610)

To answer the grandparent:

So in government-land, the way to fix the problem of data accidentally collected is to order that said data be KEPT, instead of immediately deleted??

It's called preserving evidence.
 
To answer the parent:

For some reason, the United States is the only country on Earth where accidents don't happen - it's always somebody's fault, and you can sue that somebody for neglect.

If the United States was a place where a deliberate and intentional decision to perform an action could be called an 'accident', you'd have a point. But the United States (indeed the whole world) isn't such a place. Somebody at Google decided to write the function into the code and the database schema to collect and store that data - there is no possible way for it to have occurred accidentally. (Now, it may have been stupidity rather than malice that lead to that decision - but that doesn't change the fact that it was deliberately done.)

Re:Government (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394672)

It was a accident, because ALL the data was being scanned then a filter was applied to see what to keep. The filter just happened to not be tight enough.

Re:Government (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32396770)

If the filter wasn't tight enough, it was because someone decided not to tighten the filter.

You cannot 'accidentally' write code, run code, collect data, and put it into a database. Period.

Re:Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394954)

Or, which was the case here...

One group of guys does some fiddling with wifi years before street view, making a library that can be combined with GPS to triangulate where an access point is located, in addition to other fancy network debugging tools. For some reason, the project i canned and the libraries never get deployed anywhere, but sits around with a lot of silly debugging turned on. One of the debugging things that is turned on is dumping a packet to disk from time to time.

Years later another group starts working on this street view thing, and they hear about that library some folks created years back. They find the functions they need and link them in - never noticing the baggage they got with them.

Re:Government (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32395880)

Somebody at Google decided to write the function into the code and the database schema to collect and store that data - there is no possible way for it to have occurred accidentally.

You must have first-hand knowledge of this in order to make such a claim.

Re:Government (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32396786)

Yeah, in the same way I have first hand knowledge that breathing is vital to my continued existence.

Seriously, what fucking drugs are you smoking that you can honestly believe that code wrote itself, and then ran on a computer, all without human intervention?

Re:Government (2, Insightful)

khchung (462899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394056)

So in government-land, the way to fix the problem of data accidentally collected is to order that said data be KEPT, instead of immediately deleted??

If you caught a corporate spy trying to leave your company premise with a USB drive containing "accidentally collected" company data, do you also immediately wipe out the USB drive? No, you would have KEPT the drive to use as evidence and for further investigation to proof exactly what had happened and how the data got there.

That is just plain common sense.

The Google fanboys in /. are really amazing, you guys(*) would even advocate destroying evidence when Google broke the law!

(* - there are many other posts saying the data should be immediately deleted, even before any investigation is made)

Re:Government (2, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394086)

In your corporate espionage scenario, that's my own data the spy has got. If I'm looking at my own data, no foul.

This is random Web access data from the general public. The result of government obtaining it is that the government will paw through it. This is a whole new level of scary from a privacy perspective.

If the goal is to preserve the privacy of the people whose data this is, then this makes no sense.

Re:Government (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394146)

> In your corporate espionage scenario, that's my own data the spy has got. If
> I'm looking at my own data, no foul. This is random Web access data from
> the general public.

Which, to the government, is their own data.

Come on. Don't you believe in government of the people?

Re:Government (2, Insightful)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394472)

You really think the government will bother to look through this data? It simply wouldn't be worth it. It's little segments of logs mostly less than a minute long from unencrypted wireless networks. The chance of there being anything useful in it is so low that it wouldn't be worth the effort. And then there's the inconvenience of not being able to admit they used it, since such use would be illegal and much more outrageous than what Google's already done. Besides, if the government wants random bits of logs of random people's internet use, they can get those from ISPs already.

Re:Government (1, Redundant)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394518)

So what's the point of the order to keep it, then? If this data is so unimportant and un-sensitive, then who cares anyway?

Re:Government (3, Insightful)

khchung (462899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32395494)

So what's the point of the order to keep it, then? If this data is so unimportant and un-sensitive, then who cares anyway?

How about as evidence to proof Google violated the law in court?

Isn't that the whole analogy with corp spy about, and the purpose as evidence part was explicitly spelled out in the post as well.

Really, this is quite a unique experience for me! To see, first hand, where otherwise technically competent people suddenly unable to understand simple things (i.e. illegally collected data is evidence) when it contradicts with their beliefs (Government==bad, and Google can do no wrong).

Re:Government (1)

iamnobody2 (859379) | more than 4 years ago | (#32396386)

Hasn't google already conceded said data exists and was accidently collected? If they've already publically admitted it exists, keeping it around only worsens and extends any possible privacy violations.

Re:Government (1)

khchung (462899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32397308)

Hasn't google already conceded said data exists and was accidently collected? If they've already publically admitted it exists, keeping it around only worsens and extends any possible privacy violations.

Wow. Just, wow.

Has it ever occurred to you that when someone (even Google) broke the law, it may come one day when it will go before a court, and the judge would possibly like to see the evidence from the prosecution before giving a guilty verdict? And the judge would possibly also like to see the extent of the violation when he consider the penalty for the guilty party?

Is it that hard a concept to understand? The data is EVIDENCE in this case, you don't go about destroying evidence in the normal course of things.

The proper response for Google is NOT to delete the data, but to immediately freeze those data by putting them in a safe and forbids all employee access to it, until the time comes when the authorities either press charge, or drop the charges. If the charges are dropped, THEN Google should go ahead to delete the data.

Re:Government (3, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394128)

(apologies for the double reply)

Let's consider this scenario: I'm diagnosing some problem with my wireless network, setting my radio to promiscuous mode and recording the results. I happen to record a few minutes' worth of traffic from the access point of you, my next door neighbor. Which of the following would you prefer:

a) To protect your privacy, I immediately delete the data.

b) To protect your privacy, I "turn myself in", sending a copy of what I recorded to the FBI, CIA, John Conyers, and anybody else who feels it's his job to "safeguard privacy".

You're arguing for b), which is the wrong answer.

Re:Government (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394684)

I choose A with a modification.

Immediately delete the data, then turn yourself in.

Re:Government (3, Insightful)

khchung (462899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32395476)

Let's consider this scenario: I'm diagnosing some problem with my wireless network, setting my radio to promiscuous mode and recording the results. I happen to record a few minutes' worth of traffic from the access point of you, my next door neighbor.

See if your analogy still make sense if you add the following:

1. You have been recording for the past 3 years' data from my access point, instead of a few minutes, and you have been processing those data for the whole time instead of just letting them sit there. Kind of hard to say you are not aware of those data are there for the whole time, huh?

2. For the sake of argument, there are relevant laws in your country that exactly prohibits such recording. (you may consider, as example, covertly recording telephone conversations in countries that requires consent from both parties)

3. Turning yourself in means sending what you recorded to the relevant authorities, != every 3 letter agencies you can imagine.

Still unconvinced? Consider another analogy:

A peeking tom living nearby has been secretly taking pictures of your daughter for the past 3 years. And (for the sake of argument) there are local laws that forbids exactly this kind of tracking/following/photo-taking activity. Now you find this out, but you have no idea what kind of pictures have been taken, you confronted the peeping tom and he promised to delete all the pictures.

Do you prefer to:

a) To protect your daughter's privacy, let the peeping tom delete all the pictures, trust him that he will actually do it.

b) To protect your daughter's privacy, call the police, knowing that they will need to take the pictures as evidence to prosecute the peeping tom?

You are arguing for (a), that may be the right answer for you, but don't judge others arguing for (b) as "wrong".

Re:Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32397258)

Do you prefer to:

a) To protect your daughter's privacy, let the peeping tom delete all the pictures, trust him that he will actually do it.

b) To protect your daughter's privacy, call the police, knowing that they will need to take the pictures as evidence to prosecute the peeping tom?

You are arguing for (a), that may be the right answer for you, but don't judge others arguing for (b) as "wrong".

To be fair, Google has opted to delete the data under the supervision of an independent 3rd party:
"On Friday, May 14, the Irish Data Protection Authority asked us to delete the payload data we collected in error in Ireland," said Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research at Google. "We can confirm that all data identified as being from Ireland was deleted over the weekend in the presence of an independent third party."

Source: http://www.technewsworld.com/story/70010.html

Re:Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32397302)

Big problem with this logic, the peeping tom could just as easily make duplicates of the photos.And having the police confiscate them means nothing because of it and the police have no way of knowing if he did.
And there is a big difference between someone actually owning up to their mistakes and one who hides it.

You are forgetting, that google actually admitted what they did and took full responsibility. Not much need for evidence when you have a full and signed confession in public.
They are agreeing to delete the information, at that point the ONLY thing that law enforcement should be doing involving that data is overseeing the people responsible for its removal to make sure it is done.

Law enforcement has no LEGAL need for this information. And if they wanted to make sure the information they collected was truly accidental, they would be looking at the equipment and not the data to begin with.
The ONLY uses the government has for this information is not legal in nature.

Re:Government (1)

khchung (462899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32397388)

Big problem with this logic, the peeping tom could just as easily make duplicates of the photos.And having the police confiscate them means nothing because of it and the police have no way of knowing if he did.

So on the point of privacy, does it matter either way if the peeping tom have hidden a copy somewhere? How can any 3rd party be sure the copy destroyed is the only copy?

However, for the prosecution POV, how do you propose the DA to present the case to the judge if they don't even have a copy of the pictures? "Your honor, we are sure the peeping tom has broken the law, but for the subject's privacy, we decide to delete all the evidence immediately. However, we did get a confession out from the suspect, so that was just as good!" Good luck in finding a judge who will buy that.

And there is a big difference between someone actually owning up to their mistakes and one who hides it.

Owning up my a$$. Google was caught by German authorities while going through the audit process to show they didn't broken Germany laws. If not for that audit, we would probably be still in the dark about this, and Google would still be happily collecting and analyzing those data.

Law enforcement has no LEGAL need for this information. And if they wanted to make sure the information they collected was truly accidental, they would be looking at the equipment and not the data to begin with.
The ONLY uses the government has for this information is not legal in nature.

You must be an expert in EU privacy laws to reach this stunning conclusion when all the authorities involved are still only at the investigation phase trying to find out exactly the extent of law violation (if any) Google has committed, and what the next step should be.

Your simplistic view of how court system works notwithstanding, the normal course the things is to PRESERVE the evidence of such cases while investigation is going on.

Re:Government (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394166)

Kept and then mined. Screw your privacy.

Re:Government (2, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32395206)

Sounds like a loophole to get around the 4th amendment.

Google just needs to ask him "how much?" (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393670)

Obviously, Brin, Page and Zuckerberg obviously haven't been giving as much to Conyers re-election campaign as he would like.

Re:Google just needs to ask him "how much?" (3, Informative)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393748)

No joke, it's just a corrupt Detroit politician shaking down big corporations for money.

The guy's wife got put in jail for doing the same thing when she was on the Detroit city council: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Conyers [wikipedia.org]

Re:Google just needs to ask him "how much?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394590)

Google is not as smart as RIAA.
Buying off politicians is cheap, and getting new laws made can be as little as 1 million.
RIAA total contribution 40-50 million - chump change really.

Now if Google decided to up things, say, by getting a law made, say 'Entrepreneurs Safe Harbor' bill made that basically says big global leader IT business is good for America - and whingers get nothing'
that is what they should be up to.

And buying up congress-critters to crush blowups when they happen. I'm not sure how much BP gave, but I bet it will be up in the future.

There is something deeper going on (4, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393680)

I have a random suspicion about this...

Microsoft has been looking to use the big lobbyist network they acquired when they decided that the antitrust trial happened because they hadn't bought off the government and their competitors had (because, you know, they couldn't have done anything wrong!). They've been angling on Google for a long time.

I think they haven't gotten any action because while congresspeople like lobbyists and money, they can't actually act in a way that shows it obviously is the driving force. They have to sort of look like they're actually carrying out the political will of the people, more or less.

The Facebook debacle and Google's mistakes with Wi-Fi harvesting are garnering enough negative public attention that congresspeople can now actually take action against those companies without looking too obviously like they're in Microsoft's pocket.

I do think Facebook has definitely done something wrong, and I'm really curious as to the whole decision process that led to Google doing what they did with Wi-Fi data. But I don't think, on an ordinary day, that congresspeople would generally care at all. I think the reason they're putting on the appearance caring is money and lobbyists from Microsoft.

I'm sorry to be so cynical, but I think congress is hopelessly and nearly irreparably corrupt.

Re:There is something deeper going on (2, Insightful)

Vekseid (1528215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393726)

Microsoft's investment in Facebook aside, both Google and Facebook have lobbying teams. Few companies have the power to buy -all- of Congress.

Re:There is something deeper going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394404)

Few companies have the power to buy -all- of Congress.

Seems that the RIAA/MPAA have that power though...

Re:There is something deeper going on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32393752)

Though I have no love of MS, I think this has far more to do with a possibly very tough election year coming up. I completely agree with the rest of your post, however.

Re:There is something deeper going on (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394292)

I'm sorry to be so cynical, but I think congress is hopelessly and nearly irreparably corrupt.

In my opinion it's getting better, because of public scrutiny. Really the only way it can get better is if people are paying attention, and it's so much easier to pay attention with all our modern information devices.

An example of how it is getting better is military spending. True, big companies still have influence with how the money is spent, but now they at least try to make it look like there is a legitimate process. 50 years ago they didn't even do that, the 'favors' were right there in the open.

If you go back even farther, you have things like Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed, or the administration of Warren G. Harding. Ugly times. If the US survived through that, it can survive through pretty much anything.

Re:There is something deeper going on (2, Interesting)

pankajmay (1559865) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394368)

I actually think this is Google and Facebook's own doing rather than a sneaky third party.
Both Messrs Page/Brin and Zuckerberg have made statements in recent memory that can only be called tactless. Statements like "the age of privacy is over" or "people should not expect privacy" etc...etc...

When you run one of the world's largest social network and search engine, I am surprised that these gentlemen bandy about making such statements in such a callous manner. They certainly may be geniuses in their respective fields, but making such statements was a public relations disaster. It may be so that what they said was completely true, but when speaking to a group you always need to adhere to diplomacy.

It is like the oil companies saying - "Yeah, we are in this for oil/money/our investors interest only. People/Environment be damned." -- That is usually the unspoken part and it is hara-kiri to be an executive of the company and actually put this so candidly. In fact you are acting against your company's interest.

So, I think both Google and Facebook executives alarmed people greatly. Because they are in the business of our privacy. This combined with their latest faux-pas, Google's WiFi data collection, and Facebook's privacy control. Both of these situations could have been mitigated if their Public Relations had acted quickly, reassured people. However, in both cases, the companies inordinately delayed their response, in fact at first not even owning up to their mistake but blaming it on inadvertent situations and naysayers.

The only way out of this is for them to quickly own up their mistakes (even if they think none was made). Sincerely apologize (or at least make such public gestures, regardless of their personal feelings) and calm some frayed nerves. Trust me -- if tomorrow both Facebook and Google - ran ad campaigns saying "We're sorry. There is nothing more important to us than our user's privacy and we will defend it to death" -- They will be America's sweethearts back again.

Personally, both their PR firms need to be fired.

Re:There is something deeper going on (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394730)

Well, I think you're correct, but I don't think that makes my post wrong. But you are right that the respective firm's PR gaffes might well be enough without any third-party political prodding.

Re:There is something deeper going on (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394624)

Lordy - I'm going to go buy tin foil stock, as that has to be the most convoluted way to justify Slashdot's "blame Microsoft, Google is innocent no matter what" mindset I have ever seen.

Simple solution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32393694)

All communications should be opt-in; make opt-out communications a felony.

Re:Simple solution. (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393740)

All communications should be opt-in; make opt-out communications a felony.

+1 I concur

Re:Simple solution. (3, Funny)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394052)

-1 Parent did not opt in to replies.

Re:Simple solution. (0, Redundant)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394240)

Hi.. I didn't opt in to your communication. I was reading slashdot minding my own business, reading other people's comments, then you chimed in.

You know what that means? You would have committed a felony. Have fun, jailbird. :)

No unreasonable search and seizure (2, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393762)

should go beyond people granting their permission. Especially with people who hold your data. As far as I see, ISPs and webmail and other such entities hold as many of people's secrets as a lawyer/doctor and should be almost treated as such. Not quite perhaps, but close to it.

I don't see blind fishing expeditions of thousands of people at a time isn't unreasonable search.

Re:No unreasonable search and seizure (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393808)

ISPs and webmail and other such entities hold as many of people's secrets as a lawyer/doctor and should be almost treated as such.

What's the ISP/webmail/social-network equivalent of disbarment or removal of license to practice for divulging client information? Make social networks follow something like HIPAA. Soon.

A new privacy issue I saw today: (4, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393770)

After typing my password wrong a couple hours ago, I noticed the new facebook "wrong email/password pair" page does the GUI login interface: it changed my email address into my Full name and profile picture. So now random Joe can find out someone's profile picture without even having a Facebook account. Also, it ties your email address to your real name, even if you don't make your email address visible. All random Joe needs is an email address. It's not like spammers don't have millions of email addresses, and botnets to do the intentionally failed logins.

It's not as bad as some of the other crap, but this is an example of where they don't think their "ease of use" through.

Re:A new privacy issue I saw today: (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393982)

Have you tried with a clean browser? Maybe it only does this if you have a facebook cookie for a previous login.

Re:A new privacy issue I saw today: (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394034)

Heh, I just tried with konqueror and got this page:

You are using an incompatible web browser.
Sorry, we're not cool enough to support your browser. Please keep it real with one of the following browsers:
Mozilla Firefox
Safari
Microsoft Internet Explorer

WTF? Did they hire someone from 1996 to code their homepage? "Sorry, Netscape not supported."

Re:A new privacy issue I saw today: (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394038)

Good call, please ignore my reply to parent. Clean browsers do not do this.

Re:A new privacy issue I saw today: (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394064)

Thanks for checking. It didn't like my other browsers.

Re:A new privacy issue I saw today: (0, Redundant)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394010)

Whoa. Mod parent up now.

Re:A new privacy issue I saw today: (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394122)

I'd like to see Facebook offer some serious authentication options. Not just emailing if someone gains access with a new machine, which provides zero real protection, other than notifying the account owner that they are fscked.

1: Contract with Vasco or RSA and have a rebranded ID token. PayPal does this. eBay does this. Blizzard does this. Even AOL used to offer this for users.

2: Offer an app, not just for the iPhone, but for Android, Java (for the low end phones), Windows Mobile, Symbian, BlackberryOS, and all major platforms as a secondary platform.

Second, have the ability to authorize devices so they can stay logged in without needing two factor. When the FB app installs on a device (phone, PDA, tablet), it should generate a unique 256-bit nonce [1], pass it to FB's auth servers. Then, subsequent logins after the device is allowed, access can be done automatically. This way, if the device is lost or stolen, its authorization can be removed quickly.

Yes, this may be considered overkill for some, but in all honesty, usernames and passwords are not real security these days when push comes to shove. Additional authentication is needed, because even though FB may not be thought of to contain sensitive data, someone can cause someone a lot of damage by sending stuff out as that user.

[1]: Take a SHA-256 of the timestamp to the millisecond with a 256 bit random number appended onto it. This ensure that even if the RNG is faulty, nobody will have the exact same nonce, and it also protects against someone guessing nonces by looking at the time installed.

Re:A new privacy issue I saw today: (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394298)

1: Contract with Vasco or RSA and have a rebranded ID token. PayPal does this. eBay does this. Blizzard does this. Even AOL used to offer this for users.

PayPal uses a Verisign ID, it's essentially a rebranded "Verisign Identity Protection" token.

And Facebook should use something like that, so the tokens are not specific to their site.

I sure as hell don't want to have to carry around 30 security tokens to be able to login to 30 different websites.

Null (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32393794)

It's not clear exactly what purpose the letter served

Ever since I started paying attention, maybe eight years ago or so, I've yet to see a single one of these sternly-worded letters serve any discernible purpose at all. I'd say "handwriting skill improvement", but I think they're all typed by staff or interns.

Conyers is a crook (5, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393812)

Watch out Google and Facebook. One of the most crooked congressmen of modern times wants your "cooperation". He can't use his government staff as personal valets anymore since he got caught. And his wife was recently sentenced to 3 years in prison for taking bribes.

If he asks you for a private meeting, you'll want to either bring a checkbook or a tape recorder.

Re:Conyers is a crook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394460)

BAH! You're just attacking him cuz he's black... that's how the campaign will play it... and it could very easily work..

Wireless Tapping? (1)

Skorpfox (830069) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393826)

Retaining Wi-Fi packet sniffing records falls under the wiretapping laws, both Federal and State, and without court orders for each person they got the packets from that's going to be hard to justify the retention of those captures, even more so to look at their content.

Re:Wireless Tapping? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394592)

While it might be nice, I assure you that nobody sniffing, recording or accessing your encrypted (and cracked) wireless access point will ever be charged with "wiretapping". There does not appear to be any right to privacy on wireless computer communications at this point.

Wi-Fi data (0, Troll)

jimmyfrank (1106681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393936)

Bleh, who friggen cares. It's not like collecting that data is difficult for anyone to do.

Google's 2009 Oh-So-Cute Street View Privacy Video (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393954)

Street View: Behind the Scenes [youtube.com] . The Google Privacy Channel's cutesy explanation of Street View's privacy safeguards. Looks like Wi-Fi sniffing was left on the cutting room floor. :-)

Facebook (4, Interesting)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394078)

I'm sick of Facebook's attitude to privacy. Their settings page is designed to be confusing and time-consuming.

As far as I'm aware I have everything set to "friends only" and no apps or third-parties are allowed to see my data. Yet just this evening I went to a photo hosting site that I'd never been to before, and it prompted me to post a comment -- with me logged in using my Facebook account and my profile photo.

It's maddening.

Re:Facebook (1)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394618)

And yet you still have an account there.

I got fed up with FB months ago, "deactivated" the account to see if I missed it.

Haven't yet so I'll be deleting it Monday.(yes, I know about the petition).

Perhaps you should consider similar steps?

Re:Facebook (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32396022)

The thing that REALLY scares Mark Zuckerberg is the possibility he could be subpoenaed to testify before Congress over Facebook's privacy policies, and if he lies to Congress over this matter, Zuckerberg could face real jail time for contempt of Congress.

Well, Mr. Conyers (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394178)

Are we getting a little boost from BP if you can throw up a small smoke screen to draw some fire?

Here's to having you voted out... One can hope

The real problem with Facebook privacy controls (5, Insightful)

ZipK (1051658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394236)

The problem with Facebook's privacy controls is only peripherally related to their complexity. The real problem is Facebook's habit of changing privacy configuration and automatically opting their 400 millions users into sharing information that was previously private. It's Facebook's monetization of their users' personal information (via constantly shifting opt-out changes to privacy settings) that is the root problem.

Re:The real problem with Facebook privacy controls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32396762)

There was a bit on Wired which suggests you are mistaken. The problem with Facebook's privacy settings isn't so much that they want to make a few extra bucks; it's that they are attempting to deliberately eliminate what we call privacy.

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/05/facebook-firestorm-good-thing/

facebook will never value my privacy profits (1)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394314)

mark zuckerberg is a jerk. he will never value my privacy more than his company's ability to rake in money. so fuck facebook, i'm off.

Let me know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394330)

...when his boot is on their neck. Because that is what'll take.

Simple solution to facebook. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394354)

Blank all your facebook details and remove yourself from public searches.
Don't ever friend anyone from work. And if anyone from work asks why, just tell them you want to keep your private life separate from your work life.

YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394408)

Are looking very shout the loudest standards should user5. BSD/OS chronic abuse of Romeo and Juliet Election to the over to yet another and enjoy all the
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