Monday, October 25, 2010

Google can take that 'Don't be evil' crap and shove it

Earlier this year the California-based firm admitted that the cars' antennae had also scanned for wireless networks, including home wi-fi, which connect millions of personal computers to the internet.

Google registered the location, name and identification code of millions of networks and entered them into a database to help it sell adverts.

The firm - which uses the slogan 'Don't be evil' - was able to record the location of every wireless router and network without alerting households because wi-fi signals are 'visible' to other internet devices, including the cars' antennae.

Google played down the significance of the wi-fi mapping and insisted it had not collected or stored data from personal computers.

It then backtracked and said its software had 'inadvertently' collected fragments of data (remember that phrase)which were being transmitted as the cars criss-crossed Britain.

The cars' antennae skipped networks five times a second, it said, meaning each network was only accessed for one-fifth of a second.

But it has now emerged that entire emails, web pages and passwords were copied and stored during that split-second.
And Google is oh, so upset! that this happened. And it was all an accident, etc. Reason I have a hard time trusting this?
In the past year alone he has:

* Addressed criticisms of Google’s stance on privacy by saying, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
* Claimed people want Google to “tell them what they should be doing next.”
* Said of Google, “We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”
* Said this: “One day we had a conversation where we figured we could just try to predict the stock market. And then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that.”
* Suggested name changes to protect adults from the Web’s record of their youthful indiscretions.
* Said this: “What we’re really doing is building an augmented version of humanity, building computers to help humans do the things they don’t do well better.”
And Schmidt’s far from done. Appearing on CNN’s “Parker Spitzer” program last week, he said that people who don’t like Google’s Street View cars taking pictures of their homes and businesses “can just move” afterward to protect their privacy. Ironically, he said this on the very day that Google admitted those cars captured more than just fragments of personal payload data.
Add this to Google sucking up to the PRC and selling out bloggers, and there's no good reason to believe them, or trust them to completely delete the information they 'accidentally' sucked up.
“We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and I would like to apologize again for the fact that we collected it in the first place,” wrote Alan Eustace, a senior vice president of engineering and research.
"We WANT to"... Not "We WILL", but "WANT to". I've been listening to politicians too long to trust that 'WANT' to mean they WILL.


GuardDuck said...

Without defending all the other junk they do...

If you have wi-fi running you are broadcasting it, and if you don't have that wi-fi secured then you are sharing your email and everything else with everyone else. The story didn't say that google was capturing, decrypting and hacking open secure networks - so I have to assume what they were 'capturing' were the wide open info sent in the clear. That's no different than having a conversation on a CB radio and being upset that someone listened in.

Sigivald said...

But it has now emerged that entire emails, web pages and passwords were copied and stored during that split-second.

I actually believe them.

Given how many unsecured networks they must have encountered, there's plenty of chance to have gotten a large number of passwords and emails and web pages in their snapshots of raw data purely by chance.

What GuardDuck said - if you look closely, it was all stuff broadcast in the open on completely unsecured (open access, no encryption) networks.

(Also, that Daily Mail headline and writeup are mostly bullshit.

Google's cars didn't "take emails and passwords from computers" - they recorded things being broadcast, openly.

The Mail eventually gets around to pointing that out, after giving people the impression that the Google cars were doing some sort of attack on home PCs.

Google was trying to scan SSID and location for wireless networks.

I find it very, very easy to believe they'd use modes of doing that that would end up storing a blob of unencrypted data along with the bits they wanted, without any intent to do so for anything but their original, stated purpose.

The easiest way to do such a scan is to just grab the raw data from the wireless stream in a big blob and store it for later decoding, along with geolocation data from the car's GPS system.

That way the car doesn't have to process the wireless data in real-time.

But on the minus side, as it turns out, the blob of data you get could have any amount of notionally-"personal" information in it.)

Firehand said...

I well understand the problem of not securing your wireless; don't blame them for that. And I understand that they probably weren't looking for such in order to gather data(though with some of Google's pronouncements, there's a bit of doubt). My problem is that they're playing the lying game on it:"No, we didn't. Oh, well(now that we're caught), we MAY have accidentally gotten some bits of data. Oh(now that we're REALLY caught) my, we accidentally got a bunch of people's data, sorry about that." Just like with politicians, when they play that game it makes it harder to believe them on much of anything.