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Supreme Court Rejects Appeal By Google Over Street View Data Collection

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the don't-collect-my-data-bro dept.

Google 113

An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Supreme Court declined to throw out a class-action lawsuit against Google for sniffing Wi-Fi networks with its Street View cars. The justices left intact a federal appeals court ruling that the U.S. Wiretap Act protects the privacy of information on unencrypted in-home Wi-Fi networks. Several class-action lawsuits were filed against Google shortly after the company acknowledged that its Street View cars were accessing email, web history and other data on unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. A Google spokesman said the company was disappointed that the Supreme Court had declined to hear the case."

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wut (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47353699)

I suppose listening to ham radio now is a crime.

Re:wut (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47353793)

I suppose listening to ham radio now is a crime.

Nice strawman.

This is more like going around on a tall vehicle and taking pictures through second-story windows.

Re:wut (3, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | about 2 months ago | (#47353861)

Listening to cordless and cellular phone calls is indeed a crime in the United States, even though they used to be broadcast in the clear.

Re:wut (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47356615)

They are broadcast and you can listen, No it is not illegal per se. Malicious use can be, the law varies by state.

wut (1)

grumpy_old_grandpa (2634187) | about 2 months ago | (#47353933)

> I suppose listening to ham radio now is a crime.

No, but recording and publishing it all on the Internet probably would and should be a crime. Which is more or less what Google did.

Re:wut (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 months ago | (#47354913)

> I suppose listening to ham radio now is a crime.

No, but recording and publishing it all on the Internet probably would and should be a crime. Which is more or less what Google did.

No, according to the Communications Act of 1932, you could listen to and repeat anything that was publicly broadcast, and you could listen to anything.

That changed when Ronald "Get the Government off the Backs of the People" Reagan took office and it was made illegal to listen to cell phone frequencies. Which at the time were not digital.

Curiously, the famed cell intercept that caused Newt Gingrich so much grief was never prosecuted.

Re:wut (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47356231)

-1 offtopic. It's not productive to sidetrack this discussion with a long thread on ham radio related issues.

Better analogy: (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | about 2 months ago | (#47353979)

For a better analogy, instead of Ham Radio -- consider that this "using unencrypted wifi == wiretapping" logic makes it really hard to run an open WiFi hotspot.

Back when in lived in SF, I provided free wifi to the coffee shop at the end of my block just for fun. QOS routing meant it didn't interfere with my traffic, and the only thing protecting it was a "please don't abuse this" welcome page.

Now people would be afraid to connect to it, on the grounds that even seeing if an access point welcomes the public could be seen as wiretapping.

We have a winner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354143)

It's absolutely ridiculous for anyone to even /consider/ classifying connecting to open Wi-Fi as "wiretapping," period.

Re:Better analogy: (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 2 months ago | (#47354237)

Shit. A lot of states classifying video taping another person without consent to be wiretapping

Re:Better analogy: (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 2 months ago | (#47355133)

Shit. A lot of states classifying video taping another person without consent to be wiretapping

Citation please first I've even hurds that statement before

Re:Better analogy: (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 2 months ago | (#47355793)

You can find out all you need by googling "wiretapping two party state". Most refer to recording phone calls, but it includes anything recording voice. Here is a map, with the red states indicating which you can be charged with wiretapping for recording a conversation without all parties consent:

http://www.vegress.com/index.p... [vegress.com] Essentially, without consent in these states, recording audio is considered "Interception of communication", which is why it falls under wiretapping laws

Re:Better analogy: (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47356243)

people will connect to any open public access point and do all sorts of unencrypted business on it. Just name it "free wifi" or something then watch all the flies come to your honeypot. you give people too much credit.

Re:Better analogy: (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | about a month ago | (#47360957)

people will connect to any open public access point and do all sorts of unencrypted business on it. Just name it "free wifi" or something

Somewhat surprisingly, they didn't (to the best of my knowledge).

That's exactly what I did, covering a reaonsably busy intersection in SF. Maybe back then people were more careful what they did online - but all I ever noticed was light casual use like bring up maps of the area.

Re:Better analogy: (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#47356257)

also, from your perspective as a "community provider", I would never do this lest the user download some CP. no thanks I don't want any connection to that. How do you show a judge that while this went over your network it was accessed by someone else? Presumably you could show logs, but are you saving all those detailed logs? And just cuz you have logs doesn't mean anyone would believe you.

Re:wut (2)

AnOnyxMouseCoward (3693517) | about 2 months ago | (#47354091)

Or maybe "oh here's a door. I wonder if it's locked. Newp. Well then, I guess I better go inside, take some photos and read some of their documents. And then use that information for presumably commercial purposes. It's got to be legal and right, the door was unlocked."

Re:wut (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 months ago | (#47356789)

Or maybe "oh here's a door. I wonder if it's locked. Newp. Well then, I guess I better go inside, take some photos and read some of their documents. And then use that information for presumably commercial purposes. It's got to be legal and right, the door was unlocked."

Why do people keep using that flawed analogy, Google didn't open any doors, not even unlocked ones, the Wifi signals were broadcast in the clear for all to hear -- including bad guys. They captured only plaintext, they didn't break any encryption, not even WEP.

What Google did is more akin to photographing the contents of the papers you left sitting on your desk... which you left sitting out on the sidewalk for all to see. If you didn't want other people to see your private documents, you shouldn't have left them sitting out on the sidewalk.

Re:wut (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a month ago | (#47358305)

What Google did is more akin to photographing the contents of the papers you left sitting on your desk...

It is not always legal to photograph through a window without consent, and there are good reasons for that.
Also it is not always legal to collect data that is somehow publicly available and to make a database out of it.

Re: wut (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47358395)

Your first comment didn't connect with the last part of his thought about the desk being outside in a public sidewalk, however your second point I think is interesting.

Re:wut (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 months ago | (#47354337)

I suppose listening to ham radio now is a crime.

Listening, no.

Sharing what you've heard for fun and profit, yes.

Re:wut (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47354477)

I suppose listening to ham radio now is a crime.

No. The only purpose of ham radio is broadcasting publicly. The broadcaster clearly intended for you to hear his transmission.

I think the best example would be open shades in a window. You could be walking by, seeing some people having wild sex and assume they are into voyeurism and sit down for a show. The police could come by, give you a hard time and you could say "Well I thought they wanted people to look! The shades are open!" and he'd likely let you off.

Then along comes Google. They send drones out to film every open window in the country at once. Could that be, in any way, construed as what the people who own those homes had intended? No. They're clearly violating the privacy of a large number of people.

Re:wut (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 2 months ago | (#47355151)

I think the best example would be open shades in a window. You could be walking by, seeing some people having wild sex and assume they are into voyeurism and sit down for a show. The police could come by, give you a hard time and you could say "Well I thought they wanted people to look! The shades are open!" and he'd likely let you off.

A little old man calls 911. "I have a problem here!

The police come over and ask what the problem is....

"Those dIsgusing people on the other side of the street are running around the house naked. They are doing it right now! It's terrible and has to stop!"

"But Sir, I can't see anone doing that"

"Of course not, you need these binoculars!"

Re:wut (1)

dpiven (518007) | about a month ago | (#47360117)

The only purpose of ham radio is broadcasting publicly.

You have this 100% wrong.

The amateur radio service is intended for station-to-station communications; amateur radio operators are in fact required to keep a log indicating the date and time of each contact and the callsign of the station contacted. "Broadcasting" is explicitly prohibited on the ham bands.

Re:wut (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 2 months ago | (#47355503)

Retransmitting analog cell phone calls was made into a crime which is why Google is getting slapped over this. Multi-band radios used to be able to tune them in before analog became essentially obsolete. The difference, of course, is that WiFi APs *advertise* their presence on purpose rather than carry the presumption of privacy but we can't expect old people to understand technology.

boo hoo (4, Insightful)

danomatika (1977210) | about 2 months ago | (#47353719)

its Street View cars were accessing email, web history and other data on unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. A Google spokesman said the company was disappointed that the Supreme Court had declined to hear the case.

Boo hoo Google. By their logic, if I leave my door unlocked, the Google Street View car driver can stop his vehicle, open my door, and read the documents on my desk? Hey, I left my door unlocked so I was asking for it!

no, asshole (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47353835)

No, asshole, you were blaring it from a stereo through your open door, audible on the street. Yes, they fucked up. However, you shouldn't be offended that your broadcasts were heard.

Re:no, asshole (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354039)

No, asshole, you were blaring it from a stereo through your open door, audible on the street. Yes, they fucked up. However, you shouldn't be offended that your broadcasts were heard.

Analogy fail. Thalidomide-baby-trying-to-throw-hand-grenade level of TOTAL FAIL.

You don't have to actively do anything to overhear loudly-played music.

Google took a series of deliberate, affirmative acts that resulted in "its Street View cars ... accessing email, web history and other data on unencrypted Wi-Fi networks".

"Don't be evil" my ass. "Don't settle for being merely evil" is a lot more accurate.

Re:no, asshole (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 months ago | (#47354175)

I agree, these users were blaring their stereos, but I disagree with your characterization of Google's actions. They didn't just hear what was said passively. What they were doing was actively listening to, recording, and transcribing everything that they heard. That's a night and day difference, and that's why people are offended. If I was offended every time my WiFi traffic got picked up by someone or something else, I'd be a raging inferno of umbrage, given that WiFi devices do that all the time, but simply disregard the stuff they receive that isn't intended for them, much as we might filter out other conversations when we're in public and talking with someone else.

Re:no, asshole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47356731)

No, they weren't. They were recording raw ethernet frames, and actively collecting SSIDs and MAC address for coarse location information. Had they not inadvertently collected the raw ethernet frames, they did nothing worse than writing down what radio stations you can hear in different parts of the city, because that's EXACTLY THE FUCK WHAT THEY WERE DOING, TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHERE PEOPLE ARE BY WHAT RADIOS THEY HEARD.

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47353837)

It's even slightly closer to having a sign out front that says "Open House" and them reading the binder left on your coffee table with information about the house, than the completely incorrect manure you spout off about there.
Listening to HAM radio is also at least a bit closer than what you describe, though neither are fully comparable.
"By their logic" my butt.

Slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47353947)

Putting the reception of data communications that are sent in the clear, with an with an SSID actively broadcasting out to the street and other structures on all sides, and with no attempt made whatsoever to secure them, into the same category as "wiretapping" is ridiculous. There shouldn't be any reasonable expectation of privacy without at least SOME kind of, even half-hearted or insecure, ATTEMPT to keep them private (say, a short, numeric, easily crackable WEP key).
Will overhearing a couple loudly arguing in their front yard while you drive past now be considered an invasion of privacy as well?
Not to mention the irony of courts calling this behavior by Google unacceptable, considering the other, much more invasive, things that are apparently just fine.

Re:boo hoo (2)

Calsar (1166209) | about 2 months ago | (#47354079)

I think a better analogy would be if you printing out your emails and web history and scattered the sheets of paper around your yard and the street in front of your house. Then someone driving down the road took a picture of your house and street which included the information you left laying out in the open.

Excellent Analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354341)

I've been trying to think of a better analogy, and while not perfect, I think this is the best so far. People equating Google connecting to open WiFi and capturing some random traffic, which was never even used, realizing their mistake and voluntarily comping forward to own up to it, as basically like coming into your house and poking around just because the door is unlocked, are completely off their rockers and have no concept of reality. That extends your analogy further to the driver letting you know what happened (even when you'd never find on your own), and Photoshoping out the information.

Hint for such morons: The exact message you are sending to companies like Google is "If you make a mistake, whatever you do, DO NOT admit to it, because if you do we WILL hold it against you!"

Captcha: privacy

Re:boo hoo (4, Informative)

choprboy (155926) | about 2 months ago | (#47354211)

its Street View cars were accessing email, web history and other data on unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. A Google spokesman said the company was disappointed that the Supreme Court had declined to hear the case.

Boo hoo Google. By their logic, if I leave my door unlocked, the Google Street View car driver can stop his vehicle, open my door, and read the documents on my desk? Hey, I left my door unlocked so I was asking for it!

The summary is a BS deceptive description of what happened and your analogy is a BS comparison. Google never "open[ed] your door and read the documents". Google drove around mapping streets AND had a wireless sniffer running to capture/correlate access point beacons with location data. Access point beacons are publicly broadcast, not encypted. Google saved this captured data to a file...

Oh, and by the way, it turns out countless morons are running unsecured public access points and transmitting their sensitive information over these public access points (user names/passwords/email/etc). Google inadvertently captured this very public data in the same stream as the public access point beacons.

A more fitting analogy would be:
    Thousands of morons walk down the street repeatedly shouting out their user names and passwords for anyone to hear. Google happened to be driving by at the time, dictating notes into a recorder about what features are on the street, which also captured these people shouting in the background. Morons now want Google to be held liable for "wiretapping their private communications".

Re:boo hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354447)

A more fitting analogy would be:
        Thousands of morons walk down the street repeatedly shouting out their user names and passwords for anyone to hear. Google happened to be driving by at the time, dictating notes into a recorder about what features are on the street, which also captured these people shouting in the background. Morons now want Google to be held liable for "wiretapping their private communications".

Well done. That's one of the better variations on the explanation that I've read.

I can't get over the number of people who are up-in-arms at Google when they're the ones who farked up by broadcasting the comms in the clear.

Re:boo hoo (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 2 months ago | (#47355203)

Google inadvertently captured this very public data in the same stream as the public access point beacons.

If only there was a way to filter what they captured [wikispaces.com] and not log everything. Maybe even a free piece of software so Google wouldn't have to blow the budget.

Re:boo hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47355357)

Sure Google can filter out the other data. Or simply not capture anything more than the Wifi packet headers. In fact, that's what they started doing as soon as management realized what was going on. I think the most telling fact about Google's intentions in this whole story is that Google voluntarily reported it. If they had nefarious intentions, they could simply have stopped the excessive capture, deleted the logs and shut up.

Re:boo hoo (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 months ago | (#47355285)

Logic more twisted and tortured I have rarely if ever seen.

Re:boo hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47363683)

Thousands of morons walk down the street repeatedly shouting out their user names and passwords for anyone to hear. Google happened to be driving by at the time, dictating notes into a recorder about what features are on the street, which also captured these people shouting in the background. Morons now want Google to be held liable for "wiretapping their private communications".

Merely an illustration of how far the general public are removed from the intricacies of technology they use routinely everyday. You'd really have to be out of your mind to walk down the street shouting out that kind of information. Misconfiguring a router is a far less crazy thing to happen to an average person. I think this makes a good case for cluing people up more about technology in school. OTOH, and just as an aside: morons need protecting too, NAA.

Re:boo hoo (1)

medusa-v2 (3669719) | about 2 months ago | (#47354531)

Not even close to the reality of what's happening. If you want a close car analogy: you stuck a bumper sticker with your social security number on the back of your car. Google happened to be photographing the street, and now you want to accuse them of trying to steal your identity.

Re:boo hoo (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 2 months ago | (#47355163)

Well they would have left an email address for you to opt-out HAHAHAHa.

Re:boo hoo (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 2 months ago | (#47355229)

Google won't let you opt out of their wi-fi location database without changing your SSID [google.com] . So I'm the one who has to change my network and every connected device if I don't want to be part of their geolocation efforts. Because an opt-out by MAC address would be sooooooo difficult to implement.

Re:boo hoo (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 2 months ago | (#47356169)

I was trying to be funny not correct

Re:boo hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47357641)

Not quite - more like if Google happened to be sitting outside your open window on a hot summer day and overheard you beating your wife you think they should somehow be forced to stuff shit in their ears to not hear what your are loudly broadcasting out into the public!!!

Not News (1)

Thinking Tom (2073828) | about 2 months ago | (#47353751)

The Supreme Court hears something on the order of 1% of the cases people try to send it.

It's only news when they decide to hear a case, not when they don't.

It also has no precedential value that they rejected it--meaning the appeals court ruling it leaves undisturbed is all that's there, so this ruling is only binding on one area of the country.

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47353775)

Google has very quickly changed from a cool company to an evil one. There's too much money involved for them to remain moral now, and it will take the law to curb their ceaseless "pushing the envelope" with regards to spying on the public and acquiring and retaining data.

The old Google was innovative, the new Google is doing absolutely anything and everything to obtain profit, at any cost. It's a sad way for a once-cool company to go, but once you reach their size it becomes inevitable.

Glad the Supreme Court did the right thing.

Re:Good! (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 2 months ago | (#47353811)

Lost it at '..and it will take the law to curb their ceaseless "pushing the envelope"'.

When you are Google, you get to write your own laws.

When your democracy revolves around voting with dollars, how could anything besides this outcome have been expected?

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47353865)

When you are Google, you get to write your own laws.

I say let's give it a try. They've got to be better than the malicious cretins who are writing the laws now.

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47353945)

When you are Google, you get to write your own laws.

Your assertion is in direct contradiction to the actual outcome of the story in which you're posting.

Dollars don't vote ... (3, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 months ago | (#47353981)

When your democracy revolves around voting with dollars, how could anything besides this outcome have been expected?

That is a seriously misinformed view. Dollars don't vote, people do. And a 1%'er has exactly the same vote as a 99%'er.

Money is tool to influence voters who don't really care one way or another, nothing more. No amount of big money financed media campaigns will changes the minds of informed voters who care about a particular issue.

Two of the most power lobbies in the U.S. are the NRA and the AARP. The power of these organization is not campaign contributions, their power comes from the fact that their member as well known for reliably showing up on election day and voting their respective issue.

Want to change things, then educate and motivate voters. Want to support the status quo, then focus on the red herring of money.

Re:Dollars don't vote ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354219)

how can anyone "educate", or even be heard, without large amounts of money?

Re:Dollars don't vote ... (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 2 months ago | (#47354389)

I totally hear what you're saying.

Professor spent less than $100,000 (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 months ago | (#47355649)

how can anyone "educate", or even be heard, without large amounts of money?

Ask the economics professor who beat House Majority Leader Mitch Cantor in Virginia. The professor spent less than $100,000.

Cantor had money. The professor had enthusiastic voters.

Re:Professor spent less than $100,000 (1)

Triklyn (2455072) | about a month ago | (#47361665)

eric cantor, and cantor lost because he didn't spend enough time at home. the GOP is going to miss him and his constituents did themselves a disservice.

Re:Professor spent less than $100,000 (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a month ago | (#47363585)

eric cantor, and cantor lost because he didn't spend enough time at home. the GOP is going to miss him and his constituents did themselves a disservice.

By how much money did Cantor spend? That is the key point in this discussion.

Re:Dollars don't vote ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354293)

>"Dollars don't vote, people do."

>he actually believes this

laughinggirls.jpg

Re:Dollars don't vote ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47355689)

>"Dollars don't vote, people do."

>he actually believes this

laughinggirls.jpg

Mitch Cantor, the House Majority Leader in the US Congress, and his campaign manager believed in dollars too. That is until election day. Now the professor who beat them and spent only $100,000 is laughing.

This is rediculous (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 2 months ago | (#47353855)

You can't claim defense when your un-encrypted or poorly encrypted network gets read. Think about it this way, if you are getting changed in your room and have very poor / no curtains at all then you can't or shouldn't be allowed to complain when someone see's you naked. If you cared about your data getting read then you would of blocked people from reading it, just as if you cared about people seeing you naked, you'd hang curtains up. In this case I would of told the idiots who left there networks exposed to deal with it and learn for next time. You basically flaunted the fact your an idiot or didn't care and you got what you deserved, hard lesson.

Re:This is rediculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47353957)

There is a difference between someone seeing you naked and someone taking pictures for there photo album

There's no difference anymore... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354095)

With Go-Pro, Google Glass, camera drones, news helicopters, pretty much every smart phone, and a lot of dumb phones, dashcams, security cameras, etc, there's basically no difference anymore. If something occurs that can be easily observed by members of the general public on/from public property it can, and sooner or later almost certainly will, be recorded. That genie has been out of the bottle way too long to pretend it doesn't exist anymore.
Now, laws governing what one can legally do with such photos/videos if taken are a separate issue entirely, but having it in your own "photo album" would likely be pretty safe unless specifically violating another law, like if the person were underage.

Curtains: Improving privacy since (at least) the 1500s...

This is rediculous (1)

grumpy_old_grandpa (2634187) | about 2 months ago | (#47353973)

It's not about encryption or not. It's about the scale.
Steal an apple from your neighbor, and nobody will make a fuss. Steal a fruit from every tree in the village to set up your own juice pressing factoring, and somebody will take offense.

Re:This is rediculous (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 2 months ago | (#47354149)

The either put up a fence or deal with the fact you didn't prevent the issue in the first place.

Not even a fence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354479)

Just a sign that says "please don't pick the apples," although Google didn't even go on private property so more like "please don't pick up the apples on the sidewalk." They also didn't deprive the owner of anything, so more like "please don't replicate one of the apples lying the sidewalk and admit to me that you accidentally cloned one of the apples on the sidewalk, and agree never to use or sell the clone, and offer to destroy it if your having it bothers me (yeah, don't do any of that)."

Re:This is rediculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354635)

The problem is most people don't know that anyone could even see their apples and don't know "fences" exist. You may call them ignorant but generally the law protects ignorance, especially when it is widespread (warning labels, product safety requirements, etc.).

Re:This is rediculous (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 months ago | (#47354019)

Google is accused of recording data not merely reading it. To use your analogy it would be more like google walking up to the window without curtains and taking pictures.

Re:This is rediculous (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 2 months ago | (#47354059)

Stop using the picture taking analogy. It doesn't work because there are specifically laws forbidding taking pictures of the inside of someone's house.

Re:This is rediculous (1)

AnOnyxMouseCoward (3693517) | about 2 months ago | (#47354107)

Well then, I guess it's time we pass a new law, ain't it.

Re:This is rediculous (1)

Cley Faye (1123605) | about 2 months ago | (#47354395)

Yes, a law against people sending their unencrypted credentials through their neighborhood and whining afterward would be a good start. Privacy is an important thing after all.

Re:This is rediculous (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 months ago | (#47355579)

Stop using the picture taking analogy. It doesn't work because there are specifically laws forbidding taking pictures of the inside of someone's house.

It does work, these laws are the point of the update to the GP's analogy. Why does it work, because the Supreme Court let stand a ruling that says unencrypted wifi is protected by wiretapping legislation.

Re:This is rediculous (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a month ago | (#47359867)

And there are laws specifically against recording unencrypted signals emanating from someone's house (the wiretap laws in question). What's your point? The taking pictures through your window analogy is pretty much exactly what happened.

Google didn't just scan SSIDs like a regular war driver would, they connected to the APs and recorded traffic. That's not just "oopsie, it was an accident."

Re:This is rediculous (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 2 months ago | (#47354189)

Well when you can read it you can record it. As the person in front of the window I should have no right to tell someone they can't record me when I knowingly made the choice to not privatize myself. In fact I would claim that you have even less right to complain when it comes to Wi-Fi because the security is already there, you just have to use it. It would be like the window coming with curtains installed and you just didn't put them down.

Re:This is rediculous (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 months ago | (#47355623)

Well when you can read it you can record it. As the person in front of the window I should have no right to tell someone they can't record me when I knowingly made the choice to not privatize myself. In fact I would claim that you have even less right to complain when it comes to Wi-Fi because the security is already there, you just have to use it. It would be like the window coming with curtains installed and you just didn't put them down.

The Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that protects unencrypted wifi under existing wiretapping statutes. Their opinion, unlike ours, is the law.

Re:This is rediculous (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 2 months ago | (#47354339)

Think about it this way, if you are getting changed in your room and have very poor / no curtains at all then you can't or shouldn't be allowed to complain when someone see's you naked.

Exactly! Under no circumstances should they be allowed to complain ... oh wait, never mind.

And the positive message is: (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | about 2 months ago | (#47353881)

The important message from Google that I noted today is that some of their programming team are discussing domestic products that pass personal data over unencrypted channels, and that includes WiFi passwords. This is nasty! This is SO easy to fix, and the open source libraries to do it are free in easy to inherit C, and a variety of other formats. This is the positive message that can be extracted from Google's work.

So why is American business exempt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47353977)

So why are not all corporations stealing our information with cookies and spyware online being charged under wiretap laws?
If I do the same thing I am a hacker and charged by those very same corporations.
The NSA actually has a better case via national security, just that in a Democracy civilian oversight would be required
to prevent abuse, though it can be said we are moving away from representative Democracy rapidly.

Google has no excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354009)

There is no reason a street view car should have doing anything but taking pictures. Hence the name.

If Google had notified people in advance of what their intentions were for collecting this wifi data, people would have raised hell and not allowed it. That's why we all found this stuff out after the fact.

As the old saying goes, better to ask for forgiveness than permission. [at least if you are an asshole anyway]

Re:Google has no excuse (1)

Cley Faye (1123605) | about 2 months ago | (#47354407)

If you think so, then don't come complaining when your phone take ages to pinpoint your location through pure GPS. Wifi positioning is incredibly helpful.

No "Excuse" needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47357101)

"There is no reason a street view car should have doing anything but taking pictures. Hence the name."

Deluded much? Because the name given to any object in the world ALWAYS fully describes its one and only valid purpose and if it does anything else at all, it's wrong.

"If Google had notified people in advance of what their intentions were for collecting this wifi data, people would have raised hell and not allowed it /because they're a bunch of paranoid whiners with zero understanding of technology, looking for a fight/."

Fixed.

That's their job. (0)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 2 months ago | (#47354027)

The federal government does not like it when private corporations act like they are the federal government.

Blame the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354165)

Why doesn't Google just say they were doing it at the unwritten request of the NSA. NOBODY can confirm or deny it. And it just might be true.

Privacy Is Your Own Responsibility (2)

organgtool (966989) | about 2 months ago | (#47354215)

I'm all for privacy, but it's your own responsibility to protect your privacy. If you don't want your communications broadcast to the entire neighborhood, then take the steps necessary to set up encryption on your broadcasting device. There was a time when setting up encryption was difficult, but now it is a breeze and there is simply no excuse for not doing it. The instructions on most wireless routers even highly recommend encryption, so not setting it up is willful negligence on the user's part.

Everyone on the underhanded snooping bandwagon? (1, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about 2 months ago | (#47354431)

All you guys posting to the effect that Google has been doing nothing wrong in connection with this - you all lost me at the point you failed to acknowledge or comprehend this:

[Google] acknowledged that its Street View cars were accessing email, web history and other data on unencrypted Wi-Fi networks

Did any of you even read the summary? I have no issue with Google recording the presence of my (hypothetical) open WiFi hotspot at such-and-such location and publishing that fact, even with an exterior photo of my property. I have a BIG problem with them snooping on private correspondence and other private matters exposed on said open WiFi.

The fact that if I did have an open WiFi it would sure as hell be on a different network than the one I use for email and other personal activities is BESIDE THE POINT. The point is, per the summary, Google is actively snooping on things they know for damn sure are not intended for them.

If the summary is wrong on this point, fine; please point out exactly how it is wrong.

Re:Everyone on the underhanded snooping bandwagon? (4, Informative)

truedfx (802492) | about 2 months ago | (#47354539)

FTFA: "Google has admitted that its camera-equipped Street View cars inadvertently captured emails, passwords and other data from unprotected wireless networks as they drove by." The key word that should make all the difference is "inadvertently". It's up to you to choose whether you believe it (I do), but they claim they weren't looking at the private data at all, and only found out later that it had got recorded along with the data that was supposed to be recorded.

GOOGLE reported this(no good deed goes unpunished) (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354663)

To all the morons claiming that Google was poking around in private files, please learn to read (and/or stop believing idiotic/biased/sensationalist summaries).
No one would would have ever known about this except that Google (out of an, apparently misguided, attempt to not be evil) actually voluntarily came forward reported that this had occurred. They were scanning for SSIDs which are extremely useful to assisted GPS, and also ended up storing some random non-encrypted packets from completely unsecured WiFi networks they passed. That is so far from "snooping through your email" that the complete morons claiming such have got to be running around with flaming pants by now. Not to mention if Google actually wanted to actively snoop through email they have a HELL of alot of better ways to do it than this!!

By getting all up in a tizzy you are saying to Google, "in the future please be evil, becase I guarantee you right now, no good deed goes unpunished"

Re:GOOGLE reported this(no good deed goes unpunish (1)

fnj (64210) | about 2 months ago | (#47355465)

Sergei Brin, is that you? “If we could wave a magic wand and not be subject to US law, that would be great. If we could be in some magical jurisdiction that everyone in the world trusted, that would be great. We're doing it as well as can be done." Did you say that [theregister.co.uk] to the Guardian?

Re:Everyone on the underhanded snooping bandwagon? (1)

edelbrp (62429) | about 2 months ago | (#47354765)

It depends on the interpretation of "inadvertently", perhaps. There were a group of engineers who designed the system to capture data and that group later tried to "shop" the data to other groups within Google, including the Search group, but they didn't think it would add value. This was covered ad-naseum in the European press for almost 5 years now.

From the BBC in 2010:

Google said the problem dated back to 2006 when "an engineer working on an experimental wi-fi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast wi-fi data".

That code was included in the software the Street View cars used [...]

John Simpson, from the Consumer Watchdog, told the BBC: "The problem is [Google] have a bunch of engineers who push the envelope and gather as much information as they can and don't think about the ramifications of that."

This wasn't an oopsy, of some off the shelf stuff that was doing things they didn't know about. This was, at best, engineers at Google overstepping their bounds without oversight. Google is still responsible for what happened even if the left hand didn't know what the right was doing at the time.

Except there's nothing really wrong with it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47355179)

"What happened" was capturing, and not even using (for any purpose), some random unencrypted packets that happened to be flying past from completely unsecured WiFi networks. Those same packets could have been received by anyone connecting to those open networks or analyzing the WiFi in the area.
Even on a WIRED network, anyone naive enough to think unencrypted packets aren't basically "fair game" for multiple third-parties has zero understanding of the technology and thus has no business saying anything about the issue at all. Now, send those same unencrypted packets across an unsecured wireless network that is active broadcasting its SSID to everyone in range to invite them in, and any possible "expectation of privacy" is so far gone that it shouldn't even be a consideration at all.
If they actually had ended up using/selling the data in the end, an argument could be made that maybe they shouldn't do that, but it would still be only a weak to moderately effective argument, certainly not an iron-clad one. And that's not even not the case, as in addition to choosing not to use the data, they voluntarily came forward to report what had happened. At this point I suspect most everyone probably would have been better off if Google had just covered it up and deleted the data like the slightly more "evil" organizations out there would almost certainly have done without a second thought.
The only beneficiaries of Google's choice to not be evil and come forward (apart from the lawyers) are the very few folks who, after hearing about this, might have finally gotten it through their heads that they should either enable some kind of security, or be more cautious about what they send unencrypted across the network, or just stop believing the illusion of privacy, or all three.

Re:Everyone on the underhanded snooping bandwagon? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 2 months ago | (#47355435)

Thank you for clarifying that. So far, checking into that, I ran across this [theregister.co.uk] , which says that Google tried to scapegoat one engineer (shades of GM), when actually management failed to do its function, and according to the FCC Google impeded and delayed the FCC's investigation, resulting in a fine of - wait for it - $25 grand. I would say that is about the equivalent of one dust grain filed off of a single penny to you or me.

The project software was clearly designed to capture and record those packets which included email etc, and that data had no possible relevancy to the ostensible purpose of the project, which was basically only to link SSIDs and MACs to their geographical location. So it's a strange definition of "inadvertent", but even with the benefit of the doubt, I think the issue a lot of us have is, why didn't Google just say oops, say the words to make us actually believe none of the questionable data was actually inspected by anyone, come clean and be open about it, and properly aid the FCC in its investigation? There is just too much an odor of Watergate coverup to the affair.

Re:Everyone on the underhanded snooping bandwagon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47355997)

The "inadvertently" means that Google was negligent in not capturing only what it wanted. That they've said that is effectively an admission of guilt.

Re:Everyone on the underhanded snooping bandwagon? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a month ago | (#47359919)

I've gone out scanning for APs. Recording SSIDs and data packets are COMPLETELY different things. You don't "inadvertently" do the second while doing the first. In fact, actually connecting to the APs just slows your entire operation down.

Google shills run the convo here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354697)

Google shills can't bear their precious God Google doing anything wrong, so they will justify Google stealing as much data as they want, with any excuse possible.

I personally hope google dies a slow death like microshit, but with so much NSA/CIA backing I doubt that'll ever happen..

Re:Google shills run the convo here (1)

fnj (64210) | about 2 months ago | (#47355157)

You sure as hell got THAT right. But it's not like the shills are prevnting real people from posting here too. We only have ourselves to blame for the din of the shills and apologists completely drowning us out here.

But when the NSA does it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47354489)

But when the NSA does it, it's totally fine and not even legally considered "intercepted".

The irony, of course, being that... (1)

ErikTheRed (162431) | about 2 months ago | (#47355123)

... Google threw an epic bitch fit over the NSA reading data off of their unprotected, unencrypted WAN connections.

I hope they don't allow Google (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 2 months ago | (#47355187)

I hope they don't allow Google to agree to anything that lets them off the hook because they got the settlement money they wanted.

better analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47355189)

Better analogy would be someone left the door open for maid to come and clean and someone else enters the house and starts reading your secret diary. It ought to be a crime. The open wifi was for specific purpose. Not for Google to come and read password and emails.

POLITICS AS USUAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47356209)

So, Obama goes on the offensive and executes a bunch of E.O.'s

And the SCOTUS goes on the offensive and executes a bunch of ruling that are split conservative/liberal, aka party line.

But why? (1)

zmooc (33175) | about a month ago | (#47358609)

I really don't get this. You get a radio transmitter, start transmitting stuff en then go complaining that others are listening. Anybody, corporations like Google included, should have the absolute right to do whatever they want with any electromagnetic or other radiation that reaches their bodies or equipment. Any restriction on that would be the modern-day equivalent of prohibition to look at things. If you don't want me to see your stuff or receive your radio waves or listen to your sound waves, just don't be so rude to transmit them towards me, even penetrating my body.

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