×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google Declines To Turn Over Harvested Wi-Fi Data

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the let's-have-this-fight-again dept.

Google 201

An anonymous reader writes "Google declined to submit data collected as part of the 'Spy-Fi' flap, and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is now promising further action: '"I certainly will be pressing for continued involvement at the federal level in coordination with the states," Blumenthal told Politico Monday, just days after promising to explore "additional enforcement actions" if Google does not share the data soon. Asked to describe what those federal efforts might include, the outgoing attorney general said, "There's a range of potential opportunities for oversight and scrutiny by a member of the US Congress – including letters, meetings, hearings, and potentially even legislation." For its part, Google has tried to defuse the issue by offering to delete the data. The company reaffirmed that position in a Friday statement, promising to work with Blumenthal in the coming weeks, but declined to comment further on Monday.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

201 comments

Should have deleted it from the start (4, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625082)

Google should have deleted the data before they even publicly announced that they had accidentally collected it. Would have made the matter a whole lot simpler and would have left less room for political grandstanding.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (2)

kanto (1851816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625116)

Google should have deleted the data before they even publicly announced that they had accidentally collected it. Would have made the matter a whole lot simpler and would have left less room for political grandstanding.

It'll probably end up on wikileaks once a government body gets it's paws on it; safer to chuck those discs in the microwave.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625456)

It'll probably end up on wikileaks once a government body gets it's paws on it; safer to chuck those discs in the microwave.

Exactly.

I'm rooting for Google to stand fast. What possible use would the government have for these account names and passwords.

When the government can prove that they can hold onto their own secret data then maybe they can be entrusted with this. (NAH, what was I thinking!?)

If it is released to the government, (AND Government) it will be leaked.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625158)

Meh, this is turning out to a textbook example of why companies don't do the right thing. Right now I bet Google wish they'd deleted the data, buried the case, burned the records and none of those involved were ever heard from ever again.... ok maybe not the last part, but seriously? When you know the result of admitting jaywalking is to be take out back and put before an execution squad, you're not going to find many turning themselves in.

Re:Do the Right Thing (1, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625958)

Maybe, but Google is one of the 5 companies I think is smart enough to play the Long-Script game.

Of course they could have played Corporation Games and squashed it, but instead maybe they're using a carefully chosen test-case to get certain predictable events "over with".

Right after the early Dot-Com crash I (among many to be sure) I noticed the Gaping Abyss concept: once the original "This Time Will Be Different" sales-mood of Dot Com 1.0 crashed, I felt that medium-soon we'll just be staring at a bunch of years of "small-village boredom" ahead of us. When small villages become bored, the members get into each other's business with a hyper-sensitive event amplifier. "Oh my gawd, Catcher in the Rye has Bad Words in it!"

Okay, if Web 1.0 was Sales, 2.0 was Sharing, one candidate for 3.0 is Walled Garden & Censorship, and I speculate that 4.0 will be a Privacy Revolt.

Re:Do the Right Thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34626082)

If you're going to put that as your signature from this point forth, you might want to correct your misspelling of "theory."

Re:Do the Right Thing (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34626258)

Okay, if Web 1.0 was Sales, 2.0 was Sharing, one candidate for 3.0 is Walled Garden & Censorship, and I speculate that 4.0 will be a Privacy Revolt.

How about a revolt against the inane idea that the web has version numbers? Or that the web as a whole even has some sort of overarching narrative?

Re:Do the Right Thing (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34626312)

I'm having fun with the version numbers based on Buzzword Bingo, but I do think there's the overarching narrative effect. Since I'm not that original, I'm pretty sure someone out there has a Citation.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (5, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625186)

Destroying evidence while being investigated by the FCC/FTC is usually frowned upon. But I'm glad they are declining to hand it over for what you aptly called grandstanding. Honestly I think Google has handled it the best they can given the situation. Seeing politicians exploit the situation is beginning to irk me too though.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625432)

Well the whole thing just seems like an ever climbing level of stupid. First Google collects data that while not illegal certainly wouldn't look good for the company: Dumb. Then they announce it to the world: Extra Dumb The governments demand to see the data...why? Just to see if there are any juicy bits? :Really Dumb, and now Google refuses to hand any of it over rather than just redact the names and let them have the boring bits: Extra Super dumb.

If there is any lesson here it is that Google should have kept its big mouth shut and just file 13'd the data. They didn't need it, hell they have enough data on everyone with search and email to make Hoover blush, so why keep it and blab about it to the world? The whole thing just makes no bloody sense.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625534)

I don't think Google really minds an investigation about this incident, or the government even investigating the data. I think they just don't like the way the government is demanding to investigate the data.

Google did the right thing when they told the world about it. We deserve to know. And if they had not told us about this and we somehow found out, we'd be asking why they kept silent and what conspiracy this is related to.
The government wanting to investigate the incident and view the data as part of the investigation, I can understand. But a prosecutor who wants to thicken his resume demanding to be given the data, I have a problem with. It's obvious the guy just hopes he'll find juicy stuff and people to prosecute, which will look good for him. He normally would need a warrant (and thus, probably cause) to get people's e-mails but in this case he's using this incident as an excuse to bypass the warrant part. I'm willing to believe Google wants to protect our privacy considering that they admitted on their own good will that the incident happened in the first place.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625470)

Destroying evidence while being investigated by the FCC/FTC is usually frowned upon.

It wasn't evidence till they admitted having it and everybody started demanding it. The GP was right, they should have destroyed it first, then fessed up that they had un-permitted data (which still has not been proven in a court of law) and that they did the right thing by destroying it.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (4, Insightful)

qubezz (520511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625536)

Oh noes! Google might have recorded an unencrypted packet or two of someone checking gmail while they were driving through a neighborhood! They are clearly guilty of receiving and recording electromagnetic signals IN A FREQUENCY THAT IS PUBLIC AND UNLICENSED, by devices that were advertising their SSID and transmitting unencrypted data. Guilty of doing something completely legal and completely trivial.

I trust Google with my personal contacts and emails, documents, schedule, voice mail, etc. I do not trust and never authorized the State of Connecticut to have access to any data of mine, and neither should you. Go away extortionist attorney general.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (3, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625866)

They are clearly guilty of receiving and recording electromagnetic signals IN A FREQUENCY THAT IS PUBLIC AND UNLICENSED, by devices that were advertising their SSID and transmitting unencrypted data

I think that there is a good case that privacy concepts need to be re-thought in the light of what is possible now through data-mining. Today, private information can be derived from amassing and relating lots of disparate public information. This is an issue that is not simply dispatched by pointing out that the source information was public. I think that we need new concepts of privacy.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625324)

Don't Bogart that data, my Friends.. Pass it ooovir to me.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (1, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625406)

Google should have the right to do anything they want with this data. If it is unencrypted and transmitted over open airwaves (AKA no WPA or even WEP for that matter) then that's not Google's fault. If it were encrypted then that might be a different matter, but I am still of the opinion that anyone has the right to receive RF communication as long as they do not trespass, etc, to do so.

they didn't "accidentally" collect it (2, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625480)

1)You don't "accidentally" retain sniffed traffic logs of that size, across your entire international operations, for months if not years, "accidentally." See http://gizmodo.com/5671049/google-street-view-cars-collected-emails-and-passwords [gizmodo.com] I mean come on...someone would have noticed the drives filling up, wondered why, etc. These people are supposedly geniuses, right?

2)There's no political grandstanding here. This is a major privacy invasion. The "grandstanding" has been international, because people are PISSED. Google collected and correlated with location data...MAC addresses and IPs of base stations and client devices. Email addresses. Passwords. URLs. I'm going to be VERY generous and assume that they only captured the sniffed traffic, and not that they intentionally extracted all that from traffic and only stored the extracted data, because that would have been even more obviously-intentional.

3)It's slightly creepy when you go around wardriving. When an international corporation which has a always demonstrated an intense interest in profiling its users and mining its users data for advertising purposes, does it, across the planet? That's just slightly different.

Re:they didn't "accidentally" collect it (5, Funny)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625694)

I mean come on...someone would have noticed the drives filling up, wondered why, etc. These people are supposedly geniuses, right?

You apparently have no idea how much harddrive space Google has.

Re:they didn't "accidentally" collect it (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625804)

I mean come on...someone would have noticed the drives filling up, wondered why, etc. These people are supposedly geniuses, right?

Because, sure, given the choice between incompetence and malice, it's always malice, right?

You make it sound like there was an army of Google's top engineers working on this one single component. If these engineers are geniuses, how many engineers do you really think they'd need? I'd guess one, maybe two. Yeah, it's got to be malice. There's no way one person would make a mistake, or fail to notice something that someone else's code was doing.

2)There's no political grandstanding here. This is a major privacy invasion. The "grandstanding" has been international, because people are PISSED. Google collected and correlated with location data...MAC addresses

Right. Google (and several other companies, and black hats whose names you will never know) collect MAC addresses and correlate these with locations. I don't think this is what people are up in arms about.

and IPs of base stations and client devices. Email addresses. Passwords. URLs.

[citation needed]. These things were collected in the raw dump of unencrypted WiFi traffic, but no correlation of these things with location was done, unless you know something the rest of us don't. This isn't about what Google "coulda" done, it's about what they did.

I'm going to be VERY generous and assume that they only captured the sniffed traffic, and not that they intentionally extracted all that from traffic and only stored the extracted data,

I don't know why that's being "VERY generous". The various governments that have been granted access to the data have come out and agreed that this is in fact what happened and the form that the collected data was in. Are you actually following what's going on with this, or are you just too stuck in your anti-Google world view that you aren't willing to accept facts that make this seem a little less evil than you want to believe?

Re:they didn't "accidentally" collect it (4, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625844)

This is a major privacy invasion.

I'm a little confused on how giving more people access to the data helps to ameliorate the supposed privacy invasion?

Re:they didn't "accidentally" collect it (1)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34626022)

"people are PISSED"

- because when it's your fault that someone else can locate, monitor and collect wireless data from your router, it's best to blame someone else, right?

People are STUPID.

Re:they didn't "accidentally" collect it (5, Funny)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34626100)

1)You don't "accidentally" retain sniffed traffic logs of that size, across your entire international operations, for months if not years, "accidentally." See http://gizmodo.com/5671049/google-street-view-cars-collected-emails-and-passwords [gizmodo.com] [gizmodo.com] I mean come on...someone would have noticed the drives filling up, wondered why, etc. These people are supposedly geniuses, right?

Eric: Hey Larry, this D drive is filling up pretty quick.
Larry: Huh?
Eric: I said the D drive is filling up pretty quick.
Larry: It's probably nothing, what are you doing?
Eric: Oh, nothing..I was just going to create a new logo for the anniversary of the invention of the potato peeler and I got this message.
Larry: What did it say?
Eric: I don't remember exactly, I just clicked ok, but it said something about disk-space, and wouldn't let me create my jpeg.
Larry: Well did you check the Control Panel?
Eric: Yeah, it's saying it's all full...
Larry: What? Seriously? I thought we put a 100Gb in there a few months ago? It shouldn't be full.
Eric: Well...it is. See? All blue!
Larry: Should we delete some of it?
Eric: I did, last week, and the week before...maybe it's a virus?
Larry: What are all these? Hmmm. They look important...probably Sergey's.
Eric:Shit...Sergey. Do you think...shall we tell him? Shall we tell Sergey?
Larry: Do you want to tell him? He's going to be super pissed when he finds out you filled the new hard-drive with porn or whatever you did..
Eric: I...Good point. I'll go down to best-buy and get one of those external disk things. What should I get? 200Gb or 300Gb?
Larry:I don't know? Just get the biggest one you can, and hurry! It's his turn to use the computer next!!
Sergey: Hey guys, what's up?
Eric & Larry (together): Nothing!

End Scene.

Re:they didn't "accidentally" collect it (4, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#34626130)

1) Yes you can accidentally retain sniffed traffic logs. Run Kismet for instance. I have once accidentally left it on, sniffing all encrypted and non-encrypted traffic in my neighborhood (~15 networks) for about 48 hours: ~10GB. Google did not sniff all traffic, it only sniffed (or sampled) a few packets from every hotspot (maybe 10-20kb). With standard disk sizes being 250GB it takes a really, really long time to fill up your disk with random samples.

2) People are pissed for what? Not securing their own wireless? Transmitting their passwords in clear text over an insecure medium? They only correlated what any WLAN tracker/sniffer can provide. If you own a wireless network you might know that your MAC addresses and SSID's get transferred and being able to correlate them against GPS locations has been done not just by Google. Even so, it's still legal in most places to receive radio transmissions (since it's physically impossible not to) and you can do whatever you want with them those transmitting those radio transmissions should know that there can be eavesdroppers anywhere.

3) It's not slightly creepy. I have done it as have probably many others here. Ever been at a location where you need internet? Maybe at your local coffee shop or at a hotel? You open your laptop and scan for networks hoping to find an unsecured one - you're now wardriving. Doing it for profit has been done before, there are companies that sell these databases successfully since at least the last '90's, not just Google.

Re:they didn't "accidentally" collect it (1)

gmor (769112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34626278)

1)You don't "accidentally" retain sniffed traffic logs of that size...

Yes, a person can accidentally store data that he should have discarded. Google isn't a magical omniscient being; it's a collection of teams with their own disk quotas.

2)There's no political grandstanding here. This is a major privacy invasion. The "grandstanding" has been international, because people are PISSED...

Not sure what your point is. Clearly, the purpose of the data collection was to associate router MAC addresses with physical location so that Chrome and Android can locate themselves more accurately (after the user grants permission). This is something that many companies such as Skyhook Wireless already do. Nobody that I have seen has intelligibly argued that the a map of MAC addresses is a privacy violation, although I suppose that conceivably a stalker can capture your router's MAC address and then query the database whenever you move.

As for emails, passwords and URLs, what motive would Google have for intentionally collecting a few unencrypted packets in passing? It was just an honest mistake, and the sooner governments allow them to delete the payloads, the sooner they will do so.

3)It's slightly creepy when you go around wardriving. When an international corporation which has a always demonstrated an intense interest in profiling its users and mining its users data for advertising purposes, does it, across the planet? That's just slightly different.

Yes, data mining can be scary, but there's no point in turning a company's attempt to come clean into a witch hunt. Google is honest about what they use your data for--to automatically determine which ads to show you [google.com]. They don't sell your identity to anyone else. They don't limit your choices based on your identity (although search results are personalized, which you can disable). When it comes to specific privacy concerns and security risks, I'd say that Google is pretty benign.

Disclaimer: I used to work at Google.

Re:they didn't "accidentally" collect it (1)

gmor (769112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34626340)

I mean come on...someone would have noticed the drives filling up, wondered why, etc.

By the way, the accidentally collected data fit in only four hard drives (according to Ireland update here [blogspot.com]). Hardly anything, by Google's standards.

Re:Should have deleted it from the start (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625532)

Google should have deleted the data before they even publicly announced that they had accidentally collected it.

Oh give them a break, they probably just hit 'archive' without even really thinking about it.

What could go wrong? (3, Insightful)

Knave75 (894961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625092)

Yes, the government is certainly a safe place to store sensitive data, what is google thinking?

Re:What could go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625352)

Really! The only thing worse than Google collecting data packets while doing an open network Wi-Fi survey, is the US government shifting through that data in search of thought crimes!

Government headed by an alien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625468)

Not an extra-terrestrial, of course ;) Just an Indonesian!

Holy Crap! (3, Funny)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625094)

"letters, meetings, hearings" - If that doesn't scare the bejesus out of Google, I don't know what will.

Re:Holy Crap! (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625164)

"letters, meetings, hearings" - If that doesn't scare the bejesus out of Google, I don't know what will.

The Spanish Inquisition. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Analog thinking. (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625100)

I wonder if anyone involved in this is thinking of the digital data as if it were physical. i.e. if Google gives it to the Government, Google doesn't have it anymore. They certainly seem to be trying to think of data that way when copyright's involved.

Sounds about right (1)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625124)

So let me see. The government is saying "Bad Google, shouldn't have collected all that data. That's private data that belongs to our citizens, not to you, even though it was broadcast in the clear. Now that we've established that only the originator should have that data.... let me have a peek! No, don't delete it - I really wanna see."

Very consistent. Not hypocritical at all.

Re:Sounds about right (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625138)

Yeah, that's the part I'm missing as well. What reason are they giving for wanting this data, if they claim it should never have been collected? We can maybe guess at the real reason, but what's the official reason? Blumenthal doesn't seem to be explaining anything here.

Re:Sounds about right (5, Informative)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625230)

They want it as part of an investigation into the "accidental" collection of the data. This is standard procedure for a regulatory investigation - the data Google collected is evidence relevant to the investigation.

I'm not sure why you'd be interested in pretending that you don't get this... When's the last time you heard of an investigation in which the law enforcement and legal officials involved DID NOT want to see evidence relevant to their investigation?

Whether or not Atty General Blumenthal has jurisdiction and the right to request that data is something that may need to be decided in a court, but SOME investigative body is certainly going to want to review the data that was collected, since it is (perhaps) evidence of wrongdoing on Google's part, and entirely relevant to an investigation into whether or not Google broke laws in collecting and retaining that data.

Re:Sounds about right (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625284)

When's the last time you heard of an investigation in which the law enforcement and legal officials involved DID NOT want to see evidence relevant to their investigation?

Yeah, I can't think of any examples... except when said evidence exonerates the defendant, of course.

Re:Sounds about right (2)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625416)

Yes, because nobody's ever been exonerated by evidence in a court of law. Ever. In the entire the history of western jurisprudence.

It's just been one railroading after another of poor innocent guys who never hurt a fly in their whole life, because the corrupt government prosecutors habitually and willfully ignored ironclad evidence that would exonerate the suspect.

Re:Sounds about right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625488)

How'd you get from "I've heard of it" to "never in the history of jurisprudence"?

Sorry, but it has happened. One famous example is the Duke rape case from several years back, and there are many, many more as you go further back, but it's not my responsibility to look them up for you.

You asked, I replied. This "never" and "habitual" nonsense is you putting words in my mouth.

Re:Sounds about right (0)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625686)

So the best you can come up with is a 4-4.5 year old case as an example? Out of how many tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands? millions?) of cases that are tried each year?

Yeah, I can see where you might conclude that this happens so frequently that it's likely to be the case here.

Oh, and let's also not forget that Google has more money & lawyers than god, and the chance that they're going to be railroaded into some foregone conviction is so ridiculously fanciful that it might as well not even exist, and you're just... I don't even know what - trolling for good karma because you defended Google? Good on ya.

Re:Sounds about right (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625418)

Here's the difference: What are they investigating? They can't go trolling for wrong doing. They dont even imply what types of regulations or laws may have been broken.

Re:Sounds about right (2)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625758)

Two different federal groups were investigating: the Federal Trade Commission, on consumer privacy grounds (they concluded their investigation, and basically said that 'since Google has improved their collection and promised not to do it again, no action is necessary.'), and the Federal Communications Commission, which is actively (at least, active as of the latest I've heard) looking at whether or not Google's intercepting these transmissions is a violation of FCC regulations and relevant Communications Act provisions.

This has been fairly clearly reported. I'm not sure why people here insist on pretending it's just a fishing expedition by the feds hoping to catch Google doing something they can be spanked for. Google publicly admitted that they had captured this data, regulatory and law enforcement agencies want to look at the data that was captured to see if a crime was committed in the capture of that data. It's really pretty straightforward.

As a thought exercise, s/Google/Facebook/g in the coverage around this story, and think about whether or not you'd have a problem with Facebook doing the things Google has admitted they've done, and whether or not you'd want to see law enforcement get involved if they had? Google's "halo" doesn't make it impossible for them to do bad things, even illegal things. When they have publicly admitted to doing something that is of questionable legality, shouldn't an investigation be done? Or should we just shrug and say, "It's google, of course they're good folks. They'd never do anything wrong."

Re:Sounds about right (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625848)

"Whether or not Atty General Blumenthal has jurisdiction and the right to request that data is something that may need to be decided in a court, but SOME investigative body is certainly going to want to review the data that was collected, since it is (perhaps) evidence of wrongdoing on Google's part, and entirely relevant to an investigation into whether or not Google broke laws in collecting and retaining that data."

Evidence for what charge? What you are describing above is commonly known as a "fishing expedition". If Google has been accused of a crime then by all means go to court and get a search warrant to collect evidence, but demanding evidence so that you can go away and scour the books to see if you can find a crime is not how it's supposed to work.

Re:Sounds about right (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625894)

I'm not sure why you'd be interested in pretending that you don't get this... When's the last time you heard of an investigation in which the law enforcement and legal officials involved DID NOT want to see evidence relevant to their investigation?

I think that you are being obtuse if you can't see the difference between this data (which is claimed to be a privacy breach) and other types of evidence.

If the data really is private, then surely the government should obtain a warrant to get the data? Or is it public, in which case Google has done nothing wrong?

Re:Sounds about right (1)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625916)

the data Google collected is evidence relevant to the investigation.

So, the investigators should get a subpoena. That's how the system works. If you can't convince a judge to issue a subpoena, you don't have a leg to stand on. I don't think Google -- or any other company -- should just hand out potentially sensitive user information to anyone who asks for it. Maybe that's how it works in China, but that isn't how it works in the USA.

Re:Sounds about right (5, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625268)

The fact that his answer was so evasive is actually very telling. If they had a good reason to be looking at the data they'd have a warrant in hand.

“There’s a range of potential opportunities for oversight and scrutiny by a member of the U.S. Congress – including letters, meetings hearings, and potentially even legislation.”

Translation: we got nothing, so we're gonna try and invent some reason to get the data.

Re:Sounds about right (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625460)

Duh, the government just wants the data to be sure that it gets destroyed. If the MAFIAA has taught me anything at all, it's that data is like a physical thing, and so by demanding it be handed over, there's no way that Google could have it anymore.

Re:Sounds about right (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625188)

You can't be serious. There's all kinds of things that data could show, leading to any number of possible charges against (and eventual fines collected from) Google.

They want to make the stakes higher than "don't get caught doing bad things, but if we catch you, just promise to delete it and promise not to do it again." They *need* to make the stakes higher than that, because with no disincentive to doing the same thing again, why *wouldn't* Google just start from scratch after the press blows over? You're naivety is astounding!

Is the data safe in the government's hands? Probably not. Is it safe in Google's hands? In the sense that Google would be less likely to leak it, sure, but Google wouldn't want to leak it because they want to have exclusive use of it - not sharing with competitors.

Why do you trust Google more than the government? The government might leak the data and cause bad things, Google's whole aim to begin with is probably bad things.

Re:Sounds about right (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625286)

There's all kinds of things that data could show, leading to any number of possible charges against (and eventual fines collected from) Google.

Like what? Can you give some examples?

Re:Sounds about right (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625288)

Why do you trust Google more than the government? The government might leak the data and cause bad things, Google's whole aim to begin with is probably bad things.

What... you don't believe Google when they say "Do No Evil"?

Re:Sounds about right (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625384)

It's "Don't be evil" and it's a tired tired joke at this point. Yes it's a silly corporate slogan and, yes, some of the stuff they do is considered evil by some people -- probably rightly so.

But I also don't believe that

-my world will be delivered by ATT
-Apple thinks differently
-UPS brown wants to know what they can do for me
-Diet Coke is just for the taste of it
-Verizon rules the air
-Mcdonalds will make me love it
-TBS is very funny
-Fox is fair and balanced
-Nike will make me just do it
-Or that Slashdot is only stuff that matters

We get it, time to move on.

Re:Sounds about right (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625320)

You can't be serious. There's all kinds of things that data could show, leading to any number of possible charges against (and eventual fines collected from) Google.

...

The government might leak the data and cause bad things, Google's whole aim to begin with is probably bad things.

Hell yeah... What if Google collected the traffic while (allegedly) Manning leaked the cables? I say.. now, think about it... what if Google collected them... wouldn't this be a conspiracy to hide the evidence and obstruct the military justice?
Of course this justifies even a Senate enquiry!

/tongue-in-cheek

My point: instead of escalating, wouldn't it be better the Attney to ask for the data that would be relevant to the investigation instead of asking all the data?

Re:Sounds about right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625618)

The point you miss is that Google _didn't_ "get caught doing bad things", Google reported themselves to have (allegedly inadvertently) collected the data. If Google wanted to "just start from scratch after the press blows over", wouldn't they have just kept doing it and not stirred the press to begin with?

Re:Sounds about right (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625938)

"There's all kinds of things that data could show, leading to any number of possible charges against (and eventual fines collected from) Google."

Sure, just like a cop without a search warrant could find lots of things in your home to hang you with. It's not about trusting either google or the government it's about the rule of law which says the authorities must have probable cause. In this case they don't have probable cause, they don't even have an allegation, which is why they don't have a search warrant.

"You're naivety is astounding!"

Voulenteering ANY information to an investigation that is spending a pile of taxpayer's money looking for a reason to hang you, is not just naive, it's stupid.

Save the trouble.. (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625128)

They said they would delete, just do so, effectively telling the gov't to f' off, which they need to hear from time to time.

Re:Save the trouble.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625420)

They can't. They have to have an OK by the government to do so as otherwise the government may turn around and slap them with "destroying evidence in a current investigation" and that is much worse than anything they could do now.

absolutely right, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625134)

a strongly worded letter will shake them up. BTW, I accidentally collected all the banking info on Google Corporate via man-in-the-middle drive by. But it was an accident.

What if an individual did what Google did here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625136)

Wouldn't the state just extradite and prosecute? What is different in the process for a corporation?

Re:What if an individual did what Google did here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625266)

If the guy had as good a cover story as Google does (geolocation, self-incrimination, Kismet configuration) then this would have blown over already, nothing to come of it. If he was shown to intentionally harvest data, then he'd probably be sitting in prison (despite the absurdity of 'collecting' public data).

Re:What if an individual did what Google did here? (3, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625322)

Wouldn't the state just extradite and prosecute? What is different in the process for a corporation?

They would ignore it. Fun fact for you: Google was doing the same thing thousands of hobbiests are doing every day using the same tools. But it's different for Google since there's political hay to be made.

Re:What if an individual did what Google did here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34626310)

Pointing at others, are you? I guess that works if a fanboy doesn't want to talk about the subject itself and what it did wrong. Of course the difference is the MASSIVE SCALE of google's sniffing operations. Fun fact for you: there's a difference between one guy sniffing around in his neighborhood, and one of the biggest companies in the world or a huge government sniffing out everybody, by design and system. Of course you are going to disagree, but you won't explain what political advantage there was to be gained anyway either, because there is none, and empirically the government is proven not to give a sh*t about your privacy or your perception about them giving a sh*t about your privacy.

Let me put it another way. Port scanning and scanning for security bugs is not illegal. What if google or the government scanned EVERY computer for such things, whether they are open, and read and store as much as they can off the harddrive such as passwords and private information? I guess if you're a fanboy, you'd find that just fine, because some hobbyist can scan a port as well. It would scare the hell out of a normal person.

Re:What if an individual did what Google did here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34626456)

Google was doing the same thing thousands of hobbiests are doing every day using the same tools. But it's different for Google since there's political hay to be made.

The scale is vastly different if you compare a hobbyist to Google, not to mention the fact that Google is a for-profit company with a significant interest in profiting from other's private data.

Re:What if an individual did what Google did here? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625366)

Wouldn't the state just extradite and prosecute?

No!!! It is fashionable now to start an investigation on rape allegations first... as a foreplay. Jumping straight into extradition is totally bad-taste.

What is different in the process for a corporation?

You see... it is very hard to alllege an entire corporation raped 2 women... but I reckon they'll be working on it for the future.

Why not the US government? (3, Insightful)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625150)

Apparently Google has already given some or all of the sniffed data to authorities in Germany, Spain and France. I wonder why the US is causing so much more controversy?

Perhaps the US government is asking for more data (eg data from other countries) or has refused to meet conditions Google had set for the European governments, when handing over their shares of the data?

Re:Why not the US government? (3, Informative)

melted (227442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625218)

IANAL, but maybe it's because by law of _this_ country they _don't have to_ turn it over without a court order?

Re:Why not the US government? (5, Informative)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625296)

Apparently Google has already given some or all of the sniffed data to authorities in Germany, Spain and France. I wonder why the US is causing so much more controversy?

Perhaps the US government is asking for more data (eg data from other countries) or has refused to meet conditions Google had set for the European governments, when handing over their shares of the data?

The issue is that it is *not* the US Government asking to see the data, it's the Attorney General of the State of Connecticut. Who may or may not have any legal justification for even asking for it.

Google has already underwent an FTC investigation over this issue, and an FCC investigation is still pending.

So how many levels in our kludgeocracy should Google have to explain its actions to?

Re:Why not the US government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625462)

1 layer less then the number of different email address you have to contact to get a real live person at google to actually answer a question about their services with something other than an autogenerated form letter.

Re:Why not the US government? (0)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625512)

those rich asshats at Google should explain them selves to every damn government agency the Obama administration can possibly dream up. It'll be good for the economy anyway to promote some good federal investigator jobs.

Re:Why not the US government? (1)

DRJlaw (946416) | more than 3 years ago | (#34626162)

The issue is that it is *not* the US Government asking to see the data, it's the Attorney General of the State of Connecticut. Who may or may not have any legal justification for even asking for it.

Every state is a soverign entity with general police and lawmaking powers, whereas the federal government in theory has powers limited to those enumerated in the Constitution. The attorney general of a state is the elected head law enforcement officer of that state (presuming that you view law enforcement as including the state's legal staff, in addition to its police).

What on earth makes you think that the FTC but not the states, which have even greater powers over general business practices, should have the power to investigate what occured here?

So how many levels in our kludgeocracy should Google have to explain its actions to?

Federal and State. Each entity has its own laws, and its own ability to enforce them. If you assault a federal employee in Glastonbury, you can be prosecuted by both the "US Government" and the State of Connecticut, one after the other, because you have commited multiple crimes, some federal and some state.

Re:Why not the US government? (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625298)

I'd hazard a guess that another reason might be that those countries actually have privacy laws that could compel Google to turn over the information.

Re:Why not the US government? (1)

ContentCharacter (1863024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625504)

Because in the US, The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

GoogleGate/GoogleLeaks (1)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625538)

ya know i bet they know there is stuff on other politicians hand it now over to the hollywood lawyers at eh justice dept now please....after all its a recession and why pay a politician thats bad when you can bribe him. AND ill ask again what on earth does hte usa govt need DNA samples of world leaders , a lil clone program a happening ?

7-year rule? (2)

beaverdownunder (1822050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625182)

I think perhaps the headache for Google is that they may be required under US law to hold all records for 7 years -- since any data collected is a 'record', they simply can't delete it without the authorisation of the US Government, else they could find themselves in trouble, corporately-speaking. However, it seems this particular politician wants to engage in a little electronic-voyeurism -- which although unsurprising is still a bit unsettling -- and is standing in the way of Google obtaining the necessary exemptions to delete the data.

Re:7-year rule? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625272)

I think perhaps the headache for Google is that they may be required under US law to hold all records for 7 years -- since any data collected is a 'record', they simply can't delete it without the authorisation of the US Government, else they could find themselves in trouble, corporately-speaking.

However, it seems this particular politician wants to engage in a little electronic-voyeurism -- which although unsurprising is still a bit unsettling -- and is standing in the way of Google obtaining the necessary exemptions to delete the data.

You have no idea what you are talking about. There are varying laws pertaining to financial records, but Google doesn't need to keep any non-financial data around. Can you imagine having to store every document/page request/anything google does for 7 years?

Re:7-year rule? (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625310)

Are you talking about Sarbanes -Oxley? Doesnt that apply more towards accounting records? Say Google wanted to delete its maps of the US, they wouldn't need permission for that. But if they wanted to delete expense reports they would.

Spilled milk (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625208)

Don't know which is worse, Google collecting it, or it being turned over to government.

Re:Spilled milk (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625250)

goverment, google already know everything about 90% of people and then the rest it knows NEARLY everything

If it's so important, just gather it yourself (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625228)

This information is still available, you just have to drive around collecting it. The government could attach sniffers to all postal trucks and quickly map out the entire country, they don't need Google. Of course it would be highly unpopular if someone tries to do it.

Let them have it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625292)

unprotected Wi-Fi networks.

If I send text via post card versus a letter in an envelope, can I sue the postman if he accidentally glances at it while looking at the address?

This is a ridiculous waste of time and money - both ours (taxpayers) *and* Google's.

Re:Let them have it. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625864)

No, but if he accidentally photocopies it and every other postcard he happens to see, you might reasonably ask questions.

Google = NSA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625360)

What makes you naive people believe that Google wasn't collecting this data
at the behest of the NSA ?

I submit there is a substantial probability that this is the truth.

Re:Google = NSA (1)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625970)

What makes you naive people believe that Google wasn't collecting this data at the behest of the NSA ?

The same thing that makes me believe (a) our government is not guarding extraterrestrial technology in Area 51, and (b) the Apollo landings on the moon could not have been fabricated. Conspiracies with more than 20 people never work. Although I admit life would be more interesting if they did.

thank goodness (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625374)

I'm just glad our government has found something else to focus on other than the economy, tax reform, the 2 wars we're involved in, net neutrality or any of the other pressing issues that are so difficult to tackle.

Re:thank goodness (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625444)

How about the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, the war on criminality, Haiti, the israel/palestine conflict, the israel/iran conflict, north and south korea, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and all the other cookie jars the US has its hands in?

I think the rest of the world would be honestly thrilled if the US got some other stuff at their hands other than this kinds of stuff:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_sponsored_regime_change [wikipedia.org]

Govt wants the map. (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625396)

Im pretty sure the real reason the govt want the data is because they want a map over every wifi but they cant get one themselves. As soon as Google hands it over it will slip onto every three letter agency in the US. Make a database out of it and you can pinpoint just about anyone with ease by help of your friendly ISP.

Re:Govt wants the map. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625754)

Uh, what?

Even assuming the commercial providers (Skyhook et al.) are unwilling to contract a reasonable price for such access to their databases as the agencies need... Why in hell would they not grab the relevant mappacks from http://wigle.net/ [wigle.net] like everyone else (i.e. me) does?

Must be some good weed, chum.

No right. (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625398)

The government has no right to access this incorrectly and even illegally collected data. Google has confessed their mistake, now they should delete that data and receive the punishment for their actions. If Google doesn't agree with the verdict, then they can choose to use the data to help their case, and not the other way around (where the Government uses the data to make their case.)

Re:No right. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625858)

Well, no. It rarely works out that way.

You see, once the investigation is initiated, the government has a right to pursue any evidence that may pertain to the case- even if it implicates other crimes or aids the conviction of the crime. Normally, how this would work is the government would get a judge to issue a warrant to produce the item or information if asking for it doesn't work.

The problem here is that there is no clear evidence of a crime or that the government has jurisdiction to conduct an investigation into it. But why it's doing an investigation, then the government can try to get a warrant and google can try to get the court to stop the government from investigating.

But if the investigation is legal and the government entity does have the competent authority to do the investigation, then the government has a right to the data if it can be connected to the investigation.

Re:No right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34626048)

Which tells me that the best course of action for Google would be to destroy all the data before anyone else gets their hands on it. Then the case can only focus on whether the government had jurisdiction and authority to investigate at all, and though Google may or may not take a hit on this in court, they'll at least be more popular among their consumers for their effort to keep Pandora's Box closed.

Re:No right. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#34626148)

Well, no. Sometimes destroying evidence can be bigger evidence in convincing a jury that you are guilty. But it's a crime to destroy evidence in the least to begin with.

If they were going to destroy it, the time to do so would be before any mention of a case or investigation at all. Once there is a reasonable belief that there is potential litigation and the item might be evidence, you have to preserve it to the best of your ability. If they didn't, they could be busted with destroying evidence. And this destruction of evidence problem isn't really limited to just government actions. If I tell you I am going to sue you, it's possible that you can be charged and convicted of destroying evidence even though I haven't filed court papers yet.

Of course the laws vary from state to state and me suing you would likely be a state law. But the problem is even compounded by SOX, HIPPA, and other regulations if you are covered by them. In those situation, the law specifically sets out to name things you have to preserve and take steps to preserve else you might lose the case by default or be punished for not preserving the evidence even if a crime wasn't shown to have happened.

It's like one of those lying to investigators things when no crime was shown to have been committed. Scooter Libby and Martha Stewart both got busted for giving false statements where no crime happened and no one was actually charged in connection to the original investigation matters.

Double standards?? (1)

schizz69 (1239560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34625478)

Isn't the problem in question the fact that they gained private data? They got in trouble because of privacy converns And now the govenment want that data, isn't that effectively doubling the problem. Govt "you shouldn't gather personal data with out authorisation" Google "sorry, we will delete it" Govt "No that's not good enough" Google "well what is" Govt "Give it to us. We need to make sure we gather as much information as possible from your crime so as we can 'claim to be doing something'" Google "Uh... Wait!... What??? Piss off" Govt "LAWSUIT!!!" Yea, I stand by google on this one. The govt has the biggest store of ill gotten personal information in the planet. Who would you trust?

Re:Double standards?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625662)


Isn't the problem in question the fact that they gained private data?

How is it private data if it was transmitted unencrypted? In most states you are allowed to legally receive any transmission. Keep in mind that prosecuting data for this will change the way public WAPs are used and radar detectors are used.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34625868)

Most people don't seem to get any point.
Really there are at least 2 points in this althought there could easily be more.
For the 2 simple points.
Very large business trying as hard as it can to lobby for everything it can get.
Many companies spend more on lobbying than RND.
Then you have government.
The very entity that is supposed to reject the lobbyists and govern as directed by the the body they serve.
Basically both are fighting for power because big business has infiltrated government.
The only thing that can stop such nonsence is the one thing that they both have to have in order to even exist.
That one thing is the people.
Getting all the peopelk to not see the issues and start arguing about them among themselves is a very easy diversion for the third contolling party (the people) and allows for the ones who need to fight for power to continue uninterupted.

go, collect your own data (1)

allo (1728082) | more than 3 years ago | (#34626510)

first let google collect data, then let them give it to you ... least efford data collection.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...