Oh, life was so much simpler for everyone when Google wasn’t sending its spies out into the world, ‘sniffing’ and STORING our private data, photographing our homes and scanning our books in public libraries without apparent regard for copyright.

Now, to make it all better, they’ve appointed a ‘director of privacy’ (sigh) and say they are training their staff in ‘privacy’, according to this article in the NZ Herald. Sweet.

Google acknowledged in May that one of its engineers had created a programme that vacuumed up potentially sensitive personal information, including emails and passwords, from unsecured wireless networks while Google cars cruised neighbourhoods around the world.

The vehicles were dispatched primarily to take photos for Google’s online mapping service, but they also carried equipment to log the location of Wi-Fi networks.

Several countries have skewered Google for scooping up 600 gigabytes of data – equivalent to about six floors of an academic library – from Wi-Fi systems for more than two years before detecting a problem five months ago in response to an inquiry from regulators in Germany.

Google initially said it had captured only fragments of people’s online activities, but a Canadian investigation determined that entire emails, passwords and website addresses had been obtained and stored.

In confirming Canada’s findings, Google said it wanted to delete all the Wi-Fi data remaining on its computers as quickly as possible, but must hold on to most of the information while authorities in different countries conducted their own investigations.

Gee, it seems to me Google are either (a) enthusiastic but incompetent or (b) corrupt liars. Which could it be?

And what possible reason could a Google ‘engineer’ have for setting up a system to read and STORE emails and passwords from private wifi networks?  This is a genuine question. What could they have been thinking to make that kind of espionage OK?


Is Google really, effectively, a spy agency or a tool thereof, as some suggest? image: scrapetv.com (click)