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Google Agrees To Biennial Privacy Reviews

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-see-what-you-did-there dept.

Google 63

Blacklaw writes "Google has publicly apologised for the mistakes it made during the launch of its Twitter-like social networking tool Buzz, and claims that it's learned its lesson — and will be undergoing independent privacy reviews to keep it on the straight and narrow."

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Yeah yeah, again (-1, Flamebait)

devchaos (2029956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35667890)

Publicly apologized for violating users privacy? Learned its lesson? They are doing this again. They tried to get past the war driving and snooping by the same way, but at least governments intervened and some actually did something. I say bring it, fine them, take CEO's to jail, shut down Google.. whatever so that they learn. Good companies like Ubuntu and Microsoft would never do shit like this.

Re:Yeah yeah, again (1)

cranil (1983560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35667906)

riiiiight...

Re:Yeah yeah, again (2)

angloquebecer (1821728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35667944)

Good companies like Ubuntu and Microsoft would never do shit like this.

You do know funny mods don't get you karma right? Ubuntu's not a company and Microsoft is hardly a "good" one...

Re:Yeah yeah, again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668022)

Thanks for the update, Google shill. How much are they paying you to spread this crap around?

Re:Yeah yeah, again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668050)

Wait, you can get paid for this?

Re:Yeah yeah, again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668058)

So anyone who's not a "Google shill" has to believe that Ubuntu is a company? I'm not really sure which side of that argument I want to fall on. I mean, I don't get paid nearly enough by Google to be their shill, but at the same time, I'm not fucking retarded.

Re:Yeah yeah, again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668034)

The didn't apologize for the wardriving, they apologized for logging data transmitted on the wireless networks (they went ahead and used the location and MAC address data).

Re:Yeah yeah, again (4, Insightful)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668062)

Logging the data that was transmitted in the clear, mind you. If you can't be bothered to encrypt your traffic, you're practically shouting for trouble, and should take full responsibility.

Re:Yeah yeah, again (2)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668282)

I could excuse some kid goofing around sniffing networks around but we're talking about a multinational corporation driving around sniffing whatever they can. Their staff should know better, their law department should know better and they should already have accountability procedures in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening. It's a lack of professional ethics of a level normally reserved for banks and government agencies. What's next, driving around recording all conversations within earshot because people can always talk in code if they want privacy ?

Re:Yeah yeah, again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35669042)

And you know the funny part? They didn't have to come clean on this. This was localized to a bunch of people (Streetview car drivers. I suspect the pictures themselves are automatically uploaded to Maps) who probably didn't even have access to the logs. This could have *EASILY* been swept up under the rug and the logs purged immediately, much like what a lot of companies have done with credit card and other user account breaches.

Nobody would have been any wiser, but yet they decided to come clean within a reasonable amount of time (days, not months).

And anyone who doesn't want their cordless phones intercepted by an anonymous 3rd party SHOULD be talking in code (whether the phone encrypts the message or they speak in code). Drug dealers, army ops, and cops on TV shows do it all the time. =P

Re:Yeah yeah, again (2)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35669160)

Their staff should know better, their law department should know better and they should already have accountability procedures in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening.

You actually want the soul-crushing bureaucracy that everyone hates about large organizations? Where every time you want to write three lines of code you have to get it cleared with the full board of directors and six battalions of lawyers?

Give me a break. If we want privacy then we need systems that protect privacy inherently, not witch hunts against whoever manages to remind us how poorly designed existing systems are.

Re:Yeah yeah, again (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35674082)

You actually want the soul-crushing bureaucracy that everyone hates about large organizations? Where every time you want to write three lines of code you have to get it cleared with the full board of directors and six battalions of lawyers?

Give me a break. If we want privacy then we need systems that protect privacy inherently, not witch hunts against whoever manages to remind us how poorly designed existing systems are.

We need both. Everybody hates bureaucracy but let's face it sometimes it's a necessary evil. It's not efficient, it's not convenient or nice (and some days I swear if I hear the word "compliance" one more time I'll puke over my desk) but it's there for a reason and that's to protect customers.

Re:Yeah yeah, again (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35674964)

It seems to me all the bureaucracy does is legitimize the evil. The company is still reading their employees emails, the ISP is still sending the NSA a copy of all your internet traffic, Sony is still sending everything you do on your PS3 to their servers, Microsoft is still tracking your Bing search history and sending it to the Chinese government, etc. But it's Corporate Lawyer Approved so it's all OK, right?

So I say again: We need systems that protect privacy inherently. Then we don't need an accursed bureaucracy or a series of witch hunts.

Re:Yeah yeah, again (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670772)

Why should they know better? They did nothing illegal. Some bureaucrats thought they could get brownie points by bullying Google. Google didn't have anything to win by fighting, so they rolled over. None of this means there was any wrongdoing on Google's part. At worst, they were impolite.

Re:Yeah yeah, again (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35673964)

Why should they know better? They did nothing illegal. Some bureaucrats thought they could get brownie points by bullying Google. Google didn't have anything to win by fighting, so they rolled over. None of this means there was any wrongdoing on Google's part. At worst, they were impolite.

Wow. I see Google has moved on from copying iOS and is now perfecting its reality distortion field. (Jeez, that one is going to burn some karma.) The poor, poor billionaires at Google are being bullied by the big bad government for being impolite ? Grabbing someones email and passwords, which they owned up to doing [blogspot.com] ("It’s clear from those inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords.") goes a little beyond impolite, it is most definitely against EU privacy laws. I've no doubt there was extensive transatlantic diplomacy that led to this slap on the wrist from a US agency rather than legal action in the EU. Besides even if it weren't illegal you'd expect a company with a motto like "do no evil" to have a stronger moral compass than that of pimply faced script kiddie.

Re:Yeah yeah, again (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677318)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone, individual or company receiving bits that have been transmitted in the clear. I'm no Google fanboy. I don't use Chrome, I don't use Gmail, I don't run their scripts in my browser. I don't like being tracked. If you're dumb enough to transmit bits in the clear, you deserve whatever you get.

Re:Yeah yeah, again (2)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668086)

Steve? Steve Ballmer, is that you?

Re:Yeah yeah, again (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668214)

No, just a developer, developer, developer.... [sound of crashing chair in background]

Do no evil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35667980)

Google says they are not evil, so you know it has to be true.

Every corporation is absolutely good for their word.

Google would never do anything like collect data on everything you do on the internet... just because they have access to all of it and can make a mega-super-fortune off of it. Never!

Re:Do no evil (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668308)

The informal Google motto is Don't be evil [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Do no evil (2)

MikeDaSpike (1196169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668728)

How many companies show you pages like this [google.com] or this [google.com] ? Facebook is even worse by not letting you control what information they give out to their "partners".

That's what the FTC is doing? (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668030)

Okay, so the FTC is mad about them violating privacy. So what do they have to do? Agree to an "independent" privacy review? And how picks this organization? Google? Why doesn't the FTC put our tax dollars to work and investigate Google themselves?

Re:That's what the FTC is doing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668248)

Why doesn't the FTC put our tax dollars to work and investigate Google themselves?

I think you're mistaking authority with competence.

Oh yes, please. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668266)

By all means, let the FTC grow to accommodate the job of investigating Google biannually while private companies wither for lack of work, so that private working citizens can pay for it with their tax dollars because public corporations won't.

Re:Oh yes, please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668400)

Why not make Google pay for the review from a private company?

Re:Oh yes, please. (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668530)

Why not make Google pay for the review from a private company?

Because there could be a conflict of interest if the money comes directly from Google. They (Google) should be fined and the fine used to pay for the third party reviews.

Re:That's what the FTC is doing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676972)

For real? I mean we truly have bigger fish to fry here. Facebook is in this same category and have done similar things more than once. Unlike Google Facebook never even bothers to issue a public statement. There is also a much larger concern about the RIAA and MPAA and how they are prosecuting Americans. I think the American people should be far more concerned on that front then any other.

Google today.... When do we schedule the Telecoms? (5, Insightful)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668048)

Google has totally been publicly whipped for Buzz and for collecting WiFi data....

And yet the Telecoms are collecting who-even-has-a-guess-how-much data on our data exchanges, tracking our position, hacking our phones to turn them into ease dropping devices, and whatever else. And we know AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc. are sharing this data freely without warrants with the government.

And our government keeps extending and extending and extending the extraordinary measures of the Patriot Act without providing any evidence that this is needed!

Big Content is pushing to reduce our privacy further, and insists upon technologies aimed at reducing file sharing, while enabling all sorts of fun Actors like Iran to use the same technologies to cut off their population from the rest of the Internet.

Now I am happy that Google is willing to take input on better privacy. And they NEED to be good about privacy, as more and more of our communications are open to them. But they are not alone. There are other companies that need to step up to the privacy needs of their customers.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668176)

> collecting WiFi data....

WiFi data that was broadcast in the clear, so by definition perfectly OK to receive.

I'm no google fan, I hate them, block their scripts, and refuse to use their services or let them collect data about me. But pretending they did something wrong when they didn't serves no purpose except to dilute the case when they really *have* done bad things.

Once more, with feeling: if you shout, don't be dismayed when someone hears. The very technical definition of 802.11 makes it permissible. If you want privacy, turn on encryption, which is provided on even the cheapest consumer access points.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668274)

WiFi data that was broadcast in the clear, so by definition perfectly OK to receive.

STFU shill.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668368)

WiFi data that was broadcast in the clear, so by definition perfectly OK to receive.

STFU shill.

Yes, how dare you remind people to use encryption? There are people who make a good living by capitalizing on poor security practices, you insensitive clod.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668416)

See, you posted anonymously, taking reasonable measures to ensure that your (very cerebral) comment can't be linked to you. This is -- in a very loose sense -- somewhat akin to encrypting your WiFi, something the victims of Google's data collection did not do.

If you don't want your brilliant comments hurting your karma (or be traceable to your account / real name / whatever), post anonymously; if you don't want your WiFi data being broadcast to all, encrypt it. Neither is a perfect solution, but both are easy first steps.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668576)

See, you posted anonymously, taking reasonable measures to ensure that your (very cerebral) comment can't be linked to you. This is -- in a very loose sense -- somewhat akin to encrypting your WiFi, something the victims of Google's data collection did not do.

If you don't want your brilliant comments hurting your karma (or be traceable to your account / real name / whatever), post anonymously; if you don't want your WiFi data being broadcast to all, encrypt it. Neither is a perfect solution, but both are easy first steps.

But judge, clearly this woman wanted me to sniff her panties or she would've closed her bedroom window.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668688)

When I was getting my ham license, the instructor related an anecdote of a married man arranging a tryst with someone other than his wife. He did this on a ham radio, using the local community's repeater to patch into the phone system (mobile calling has been around long before cell phones) -- and of course, everyone used that frequency. Needless to say, his wife, uh, found out.

Point is, if you're broadcasting sensitive information over the air, you need to encrypt it if you expect any privacy at all, period (unless it's remarkably short-range). This was true in WWII, it was true in the 80's, and it's true today. I'm not saying I agree with what Google did, but someone with a laptop, GPS and kismet could do exactly the same thing, just on a smaller scale.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35669098)

When I was getting my ham license, the instructor related an anecdote of a married man arranging a tryst with someone other than his wife. He did this on a ham radio, using the local community's repeater to patch into the phone system (mobile calling has been around long before cell phones) -- and of course, everyone used that frequency. Needless to say, his wife, uh, found out.

Point is, if you're broadcasting sensitive information over the air, you need to encrypt it if you expect any privacy at all, period (unless it's remarkably short-range). This was true in WWII, it was true in the 80's, and it's true today. I'm not saying I agree with what Google did, but someone with a laptop, GPS and kismet could do exactly the same thing, just on a smaller scale.

But it IS remarkably short range, 802.11n is like 50m indoors maybe ? It's more akin to listening at the keyhole than tuning into a broadcast as in your example. I'm all for encryption, the more the better, but that doesn't change the fact that there has to be a reasonable expectation of privacy even when encryption fails or more likely the setup is insecure out of the box and the technical know-how isn't there to improve things. Like I said elsewhere in the comments I could give a pass to a kid having fun, closer to a classic "nosy neighbor" situation, but this is a multi national corporation scanning people for data to use for its own gain. It's going too far.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670464)

From INSIDE my house, my laptop sees at least 5 different wireless networks from the surrounding houses. If I were in a dense neighborhood or an apartment complex, I'd see far more networks than that. So, no, 50 meters indoors is not "remarkably short range"; it is remarkably long range for a "private" network. This is not an accident; the range is long intentionally.

The blame for the Google fiasco is misdirected at Google. Yes, Google should not have collected the data, as a matter of privacy ethics. However, the real guilty parties are the wireless device vendors and the ISPs who provide to their customers wireless access devices that are insecure by default.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668868)

If you can smell the panties in her room from out on the street, she has no place to complain that you did. You on the other hand have a right to complain.

Less disgustingly, if she throws them at you while you are playing a show, you also in the clear to sniff them.

Conversely, if she puts even the slightest effort into keeping you from smelling them, you do not.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668774)

"STFU" is an excellent counterargument to my points indeed. I may not be able to compete with your eloquence, but let me try again.

If we go down this path of making it illegal to receive signals broadcast in the clear, that fact WILL be used against normal people far more than against companies like google. The damage that such an ideology might do far outweighs the small benefits it would confer here.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668810)

Lots of idiots pointing fingers and screaming 'shill,' reminiscent of Donald Sutherland's cry at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

It's such an intellectually shoddy way to conduct an argument. Why not accuse him of being racist at the same time? After all, your point is mostly "JUST DON'T LISTEN TO HIM! DON'T LISTEN TO HIS EVIL WORDS!".

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670198)

They broke the law. Period. They cruised around, intercepting and recording wireless transmissions, and at least by German law, that was illegal. It didn't happen by accident. They justifiably got slapped for their actions. Once more, if you break the law, don't be dismayed by the consequences.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35673690)

Yes, but nobody on /. cares which laws in Germany were violated.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

nbossett (1835098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35672088)

It's not necessarily legal to listen to (and archive) radio transmissions which aren't intended for you, even if they are sent unencrypted. There's a big difference between a television station and a private wireless computer network or cordless phone.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35677734)

And how is one to define intended? Someone sets up a wireless network which is openly broadcasting to the general public and is surprised that someone used it. How am I to interpret if that open WiFi network is intended for me or not. I am truthfully a bit tired of people kicking and screaming ignorance because they don't understand what they have and how to use it properly. How many news broadcasts, newspaper articles, blogs, and general information on the web is available to all on WiFi and how to use it. Perhaps a different example lets take a baby seat which I buy at a local store and I don't read the directions (just like these owners of WiFi capable routers). If I get in an accident and my baby gets injured because I installed it incorrectly or worse the baby dies for the same reasons do you think I will just be allowed to walk away and claim innocence because I just didn't know how to install the seat correctly? Ultimately when you purchase ANYTHING as a consumer it should be your responsibility to ensure it is maintained and setup correctly. Especially those devices which are used for transmission. Any mildly intelligent person should be able to ask themselves the basic questions "Can any one else easily access what I'm transmitting." if their answer is "I don't know" then they should ASK SOMEONE. Hell even the local Best Buy guy/gal would/could tell them to encrypt their WiFi.

I don't see the WiFi issue above as an issue. Don't want your car stolen then take the key out of the ignition when you park it. Don't wan't the neighbors kid to surf porn on your internet connection or be able to read your emails then encrypt it.

hacking our phones to turn them into ease dropping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668244)

uhh... what? Proof?

It'd be real easy with some basic RF equipment to tell whether your phone is turning on when not expected.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (2)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668260)

Google has totally been publicly whipped for Buzz and for collecting WiFi data....

As is richly deserved for flagrant and willful abuse of privacy. Now please explain to me why these same watchful agencies continue to look the other way and let Microsoft get away with murder in terms of continued market control of PC vendors and such destructive tactics as undermining the ISO standards process. How about fabricating evidence in court, what punishment was there for that?

At least Google is likely to learn and improve its behavior as a result of the punishment. Microsoft never would.

yeah riiiight (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668356)

As is richly deserved for flagrant and willful abuse of privacy.

Having people you had already contacted via email being able to follow your Buzz is abuse of privacy? I don't see how. The entire situation was way way overblown.

Re:yeah riiiight (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#35669734)

It is not Google's right to tell the world who you have emailed and who has emailed you.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668424)

..turn them into ease dropping devices..

I hate when AT&T makes it easier to drop my iPhone.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668496)

Perhaps because of their operating location?

I'm an outsider, but the general population of the US is often perceived as apathetic to privacy concerns, and prioritise 'security' and national integrity above it.

Google's actions on the other hand affect their global brand, with many countries not wishing to be subdued into being the 'anti-privacy' corporate country they see the US as.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668552)

The difference here is that Google cares about its users... or at least maintains that it does. AT&T doesn't much give a damn and makes this pretty obvious. Of course these things probably have more to do with user apathy and fleeting internet buzz (can I still use that word?) than actual corporate attitudes.

Re:Google today.... When do we schedule the Teleco (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671404)

Google has totally been publicly whipped for Buzz and for collecting WiFi data....

And does anybody think those two decisions were more than 2 years in the planning?

There are firms that audit privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668094)

There are firms that specialize in auditing tech businesses to make sure they're handling privacy correctly?

Learn something new every day.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35668150)

So good news - The Goog will review every 2 years to see if your data is being leaked. Seems like less of a proactive approach to me and more of a "well we'll look at it when we can get to it" kind of approach.

Re:Good (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668434)

No, someone from "the outside" will audit Google to ensure that they are taking appropriate steps to protect your privacy.

This is not the same as seeing if your data is being leaked. It is a review of their processes.

To be clear, in the fine article, the Google director of privacy is quoted as saying:
"We’ll receive an independent review of our privacy procedures once every two years, and we’ll ask users to give us affirmative consent before we change how we share their personal information."

Re:Good (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668800)

Sounds reasonable to me. I didn't read the article, but the summary doesn't say that they were forced to do this. If it is voluntary, it is far more than I would expect from other companies.

Re:Good (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35669084)

Hehe.... According to the Googe rep's statement in the article, it's part of Google's agreement with the FTC, "to address their privacy concerns." In any case, I agree, it does sound reasonable, even if it's not entirely voluntary.

More companies would benefit from having that kind of audit pressure.

Witchhunt (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668228)

Can this really be anything else? I mean of all the telcos and other companies that we know violate our privacy in egregious ways, they have to pick on Google? Seriously? Is this the best they can come up with?

Re:Witchhunt (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668330)

Google isn't lining the pockets of the correct politicians election campaigns. That is all, move along.

Re:Witchhunt (0)

Ancantus (1926920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35669358)

Google isn't lining the pockets of the correct politicians election campaigns. That is all, move along.

And more importantly, the people who are lining the pockets of the correct politicians don't like Google's success.

Well, that's good news (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668290)

Anyone want to buy some slightly used tin foil underwear?

Biennial Privacy? (1)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35668444)

I don't know about you but a Biennial Privacy Review sounds like it hurts!

wrong lesson learned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35669074)

The only lesson they learned is that there is a maximum speed that the general population accepts when it comes to ever increasing privacy incursions.

Why are Slashdot readers so naive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35669492)

Google is lining the pockets of politicians. They have $1Bs to spend. They contributed as much as evil Microsoft to Obama: Microsoft Corp, $833617. Google Inc, $803436. Seriously, Google is doing bad things with private data and should have been punished. Just because they say do not harm... don't believe them.

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