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Germany Demands Google Forfeit Citizens' Wi-Fi Data 318

Posted by kdawson
from the forfeited-trust dept.
eldavojohn writes "Germany has ordered Google to give up hard disk drives used to store German data collected during their Street View operations in that country. This follows Google's admission last week (after prodding from the Germans) that it had collected the data from unsecured wireless area networks from around the entire world as its roving cars collected the photo archive for Street View. Google says they've offered to just destroy the data, in cooperation with national regulators, but the German government wants to know what they've collected. They do not think that destroying the drives suffices for compliance with the laws. Officials went so far as to say of the situation, 'It is not acceptable that a company operating in the EU does not respect EU rules.' Germany has certainly been keeping their eye on the search giant." The Ars coverage notes that the US FTC may be looking more closely at Google's collection as well.
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Germany Demands Google Forfeit Citizens' Wi-Fi Data

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  • Privacy laws (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) *

    I seriously hope more EU countries will demand the same thing. It's outrageous
    how Google blatantly breaks laws, especially privacy ones, and get nothing for it.

    Whoever in the EU parliament will impose big fines for Google breaking privacy laws gets my vote. It seems it's the only way Google will learn. They have previously too pissed of Germany on privacy issues [slashdot.org].

    US may not do the same, but Europeans take privacy seriously. We have had our governments to completely different agendas many times in the history

    • Re:Privacy laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AltairDusk (1757788) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:36PM (#32255986)
      Hate to say it but if you have an unsecured wireless network you are freely broadcasting your data over the airwaves for anyone to listen. Laws are not the solution to this, proper security is. I can't walk out on my porch and yell sensitive information then fine you for having heard it.
      • by Itninja (937614)
        But they can fine you for recording and distributing it (which is what Google is doing). Like a radio scanner that can pick up cell phone calls. Sure you listen, but you can never (legally) disseminate the information; even if you hear someone planning a murder.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Aqualung812 (959532)

          and distributing it (which is what Google is doing)

          Show me where they're distributing it. From everything I've heard, Google is the one that said "Oops, we got this stuff by mistake & are going to delete it as soon as we let everyone know". Go read the man pages for Kismet, sounds like that's what they were using & didn't turn off the data collection option.

        • But they can fine you for recording and distributing it (which is what Google is doing)

          Wait, what? Where can I get this information? Where is it being distributed? IIRC, they just used some old bit of wireless network scanning software and happened to pick up more than they meant to. I don't exactly like Google having all my personal information, but thinking that Google gives some kind of massive shit about a few people's unsecured information is is definitely in the tinfoil hat zone.

          If I had to, what I would class this as is the same as if you were walking down the street with a digital rec

        • by Bengie (1121981)

          The only difference is that cell phones are encrypted. Maybe if Google and breaking encryption and listening in on network's, then your analogy would work.

      • Re:Privacy laws (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bradley13 (1118935) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @02:16PM (#32256570) Homepage

        I have to agree. While it's great that the European countries take privacy seriously, there is a real problem here. If someone transmits radio waves into public space - heck, into your house, your car and through your body - just how can any sensible person say you do not have a right to receive those radio waves? This is especially ridiculous outcomes in the case of wireless networks, since practically every European citizen carries a wireless receiver (in their mobile phone) all the time. There can be no expectation of privacy here.

        As a related anecdote, Google has gotten in trouble in Switzerland because their camera is mounted higher than a person's normal eye level. This is a much more valid complaint, as it means that the camera occasionally sees over hedges and fences and into windows that people did reasonably consider to be out of the public view.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Galestar (1473827)
        How wrong you are. Open Wi-Fi is like an open window in your house - just because you leave the window open doesn't mean its okay for anybody to climb in and "have a look around".

        Most people know that its generally a bad idea to have unsecured Wi-Fi, just as its a bad idea to leave your windows open in a bad neighborhood. One person's stupidity doesn't give another the right to take advantage.
        • Re:Privacy laws (Score:4, Insightful)

          by guruevi (827432) <evi AT smokingcube DOT be> on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:18PM (#32257494) Homepage

          Wrong analogy. Open WiFi is like opening your windows and then walking naked in front of it (or do anything else that you want to keep private) and then be mad at somebody else when they see you.

        • That's not strictly true. Squatter's rights exist and, at least in the UK, if there is no forced entry it's not criminal.

          If you read up on trespassing laws you'll see that simply being on someone's property or even in their home is not a crime. If you do things like leave your door open all the time and I lay a catalogue inside your home then I probably won't get in trouble especially if you have a mail slot on your door which I couldn't use since the door was open. I could even be found further in your
        • Re:Privacy laws (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:41PM (#32257752)

          How wrong you are. Open Wi-Fi is like an open window in your house - just because you leave the window open doesn't mean its okay for anybody to climb in and "have a look around".

          Nobody climbed into the house. They looked through the wide open window while standing in the street. Don't like it? Close your window and draw the blinds.

    • Re:Privacy laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Monty845 (739787) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:36PM (#32255994)
      You want the data turned over to the government? That is the absolute last thing I would want if google inappropriately collected my wifi activity. The government should supervise the destruction, not be given the data set to do with as they please...
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        It's against the law in Germany to have unsecured wireless networks. Since Google has already collected all this information for the German government they simply want to start handing out fines based on it. "Google, helping any way we can (TM)"
      • by sopssa (1498795) *

        You want the data turned over to the government? That is the absolute last thing I would want if google inappropriately collected my wifi activity. The government should supervise the destruction, not be given the data set to do with as they please...

        If you'd actually read the article you would notice that they only wanted one hard drive to see what kind of data Google had collected and if they were breaking laws, and if they should be fined for it and told to stop doing so.

        You know, police usually needs evidence so it can actually investigate and come to conclusion. Google refusing and destroying evidence is breaking even more laws and doesn't really show that Google is acting lawfully.

      • by cgenman (325138)

        Good luck "supervising destruction" in a modern sense. Other than attempting to verify that the data has been deleted, what are you going to do? If this is stored anywhere in Google's cloud, chances are they'd have to copy it to a hard drive first, before being able to hand it all over. Then what, destroy that hard drive?

      • by Tom (822)

        While I agree on being careful with the government, I find this american trait of total distrust in the government paired with way too much trust in private companies very much irrational. As do most europeans. We watch our governments, and we usually don't like them very much, but we don't think they were put there by the devil himself and are evil incarnate.

    • Re:Privacy laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:40PM (#32256052) Homepage

      I seriously hope more EU countries will demand the same thing. It's outrageous

      Actually, I kind of agree with Google's position about destroying it.

      I mean, it boils down to "you have collected something which is illegal and invasive to have ... why don't you give it to us and we'll, er, keep it safe."

      I agree that if Google is actually scraping people's email and stuff from unsecured wireless that's a huge invasion of privacy and is a very bad thing. But, handing the same information over to a government who wouldn't be allowed to have it either doesn't seem any better.

      • I mean, it boils down to "you have collected something which is illegal and invasive to have ... why don't you give it to us and we'll, er, keep it safe."

        No, it boils down to "you have told us you take photos from public places of houses, then you have to admit, that you also collect MAC-addresses and SSIDs (which you 'forgot' to mention when we talked about it) and then just two weeks later you tell us, 'whoops, we also collected some mails and some web sessions, sorry' and now we want to see, what you hav

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          No, it boils down to "you have told us you take photos from public places of houses, then you have to admit, that you also collect MAC-addresses and SSIDs (which you 'forgot' to mention when we talked about it) and then just two weeks later you tell us, 'whoops, we also collected some mails and some web sessions, sorry' and now we want to see, what you have collected, as we don't see any more reason to trust you".

          Oh, I'm not disputing that Google keeps admitting to having harvested way more than they ought

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Oh, I'm not disputing that Google keeps admitting to having harvested way more than they ought to have. I just don't see how giving the information to the government makes things better.

            Easy, how can we be sure, that Google captured the data accidentally? How can we be sure, that they really only captures some fragments which are basically noise. They lied to the German government twice now. And had to admit to having collected way more data than previously admitted. Don't forget, they have been doing that

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              And not being from the US I actually trust my government more than a company which has a "strained" relationship with privacy.

              I leave it for you to judge your own government, sir. I don't trust my, or most anyone else's government, to play by the rules. I just presume they're all turds.

              Actually it is, as the person asking for it has exactly the job of making sure, that companies respect the privacy laws. Their power is very limited (just look at the puny fee he can hand out).

              So, it's a law with no real te

    • by nmb3000 (741169)

      US may not do the same, but Europeans take privacy seriously.

      If you stand on a street corner and yell back and forth at your neighbor across the street, is somebody standing 100 feet away from you with a tape recorder capturing your conversation violating your privacy?

      That's exactly what Google was doing with their wireless capture. I can't say I really like it, but at the same time I also can't say they were violating privacy. If I want to have a private conversation I stop yelling or start using encrypt

    • by joelsanda (619660)

      I seriously hope more EU countries will demand the same thing.

      Couldn't that mean more copies of that data floating around? I think the best solution is to keep what they have sequestrated and secured (whatever the hell that means these days) so it's at least in one place, assuming that's the state of the data now. If that's the case and I knew I had data like that collected by Google, I'd want the single source destroyed with appropriate folks watching. If nothing else we'll see some geeks dressed up watchi

    • I seriously hope more EU countries will demand the same thing. It's outrageous
      how Google blatantly breaks laws, especially privacy ones, and get nothing for it.

      Blatantly? Others more knowledgeable than me have suggested that this was an honest mistake. Furthermore, this may be reading too much into the summary's language, but this part sounds fishy

      the German government wants to know what they've collected. They do not think that destroying the drives suffices for compliance with the laws.

      Are we to understand that the german government has made laws and isn't exactly sure on what's legal and not legal according to those laws? Because if they don't know, how the hell would Google know how to abide by those laws.

      Furthermore, why are you upset with google rather than the hypocrites in office who are clear

    • by zazzel (98233)

      How can this be modded "interesting"?

      I seriously hope more EU countries will demand the same thing. It's outrageous
      how Google blatantly breaks laws, especially privacy ones, and get nothing for it.

      Google does not break laws, they are doing this legally, (at worst) in an unregulated area - collecting publicly available data on an industry scale.

      Whoever in the EU parliament will impose big fines for Google breaking privacy laws gets my vote.

      I do not want EU legislation on this, thank you. There is still the rule of subsidiarity, so this is a national question anyways.

      Don't use Google services you say? That's a little bit hard when they have their cars driving around sniffing web traffic.

      Wow. Google is NOT sniffing web traffic, they are at best wardriving (but not accessing WLANs), maybe recording encryption schemes on found WLANs. So? Any telco/ISP-provided router is configured f

    • by mr_death (106532)

      You've got to be kidding me -- Google collected "private" data that was being _broadcast_ by people's Wireless Access Points, and it's Google's fault? Any idiot within ~100m or so could do the same thing.

      If Europeans really "take privacy seriously", they would configure their equipment correctly.

    • I'm not entirely happy that they collect the data however I don't know if I want it be a case where I can get in trouble for collecting something that is freely available and in fact my hardware (router, laptop, phone, etc) are built to find. Where do you draw the line on when you're collecting data and breaking someone's privacy.

      Also if your privacy extends onto public streets do I get in trouble for taking pictures in front of people's houses or when someone happens to be walking in front of my camera?
    • Google's explanation is that they didn't do any of this on purpose and frankly it's actually a pretty believable explanation when you read the details. They intentionally sniff out Wifi access points for Geolocation on devices with no GPS (like Skyhook). Unfortunately they apparently recycled some code written for a 20% project by another employee. What they wanted was MAC addresses they could correlate them to physical locations -- what they actaully saved instead was the entire packet which also contai

  • Great News! (Score:5, Funny)

    by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:35PM (#32255968)

    Oh good. I was worried it would end up in the wrong hands.

    • by Dyinobal (1427207)
      My thoughts exactly, how does giving the wifi data to a government solve anything. I'm sure there is plenty of spook agencies that love this kind of stuff.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by timeOday (582209)

        My thoughts exactly, how does giving the wifi data to a government solve anything.

        So they can determine whether google did anything wrong, and if so, google can be punished to prevent them or somebody else from repeating this in the figure. (What, too obvious?)

        As for the other concerns, do you really think prosecutions of private citizens will arise from this? I don't. But I do think the govt. should collect just enough of the drives, say a randomly selected 1%, to determine what actually happened.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by chaboud (231590)

          Google's already freely stipulated that they did something wrong. If they're willing to admit that they broke the law and collected this data, then why would the German government still need this data?

          Oh, that's right, only because it's a treasure-trove of never-needed-a-warrant-in-the-first-place data.

          An independent auditor is the nearest thing we'll get to fair inspection of this, but they'll just hand that crap over to the government, anyway. Let's face it:

          1. This data is most probably completely usele

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bughunter (10093)

        how does giving the wifi data to a government solve anything.

        That was my first thought, too. First of all, handing it over doesn't guarantee that you haven't made a copy of it. And distributing either an original or a copy doesn't guarantee any security, even if it is the German government.

        Besides, there's the obligatory troll, you know who *else* was a German government? Someone's gonna go there...

    • Yeah.

      I mean, it was worrisome that Google had that much private data, but my government? That's perfectly fine. I'd trust them with anything.

      (Or maybe it was "I'd trust them to do anything.")

  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:36PM (#32255980)

    Google [has] until May 26 to hand over one of the hard drives that it had used to collect and store information in Germany, where Street View is not yet available.

    Through a spokesman, Google reiterated its offer to destroy the WLAN data in conjunction with regulators, but stopped short of saying it would hand over a hard drive, which would allow regulators to see for the first time what kind of data had been collected.

    So they're happy to "destroy" is but don't want to turn it over so Germany can see exactly what they were gathering? Smells fishy to me.

    • Not to mention, they want the hard drives turned over? They've never heard of, you know.. copying?

      So, rather than work with google to make sure all data is destroyed, regardless of whether it was copied, they'd rather google just give them the hard drives.. cause then.. what?

    • Whats fishy about it at all?

      If the issue is privacy - Google is more than willing to destroy it, simple as that.

      If the issue is the German Government not having it - they can go and collect this information themselves. Google put in the effort to record the data. Nothing is stopping an arm of the Government from doing the same thing. Google would be foolish to just give it away. That would essentially be wasting their time and money. I bet if they were offered money for the data, they'd consider it.

      Really,

    • by zazzel (98233)

      So they're happy to "destroy" is but don't want to turn it over so Germany can see exactly what they were gathering? Smells fishy to me.

      If you had followed the German Ministry of the Interior, especially under Mr. Schäuble, more closely, you would destroy the hard drives yourself, FOR Google.

      Why would I, as a citizen, want that Google hands over this data to the same government that's been undermining privacy rights and the principles of a *federal* state for years? A centralized taxpayer database to circumvent the illegality of central databases on citizens? Got it! (ELENA). A central database of all online & telephony connections

    • Would you want a government happy to fine people for insecure networks, who just lost a big chunk of money to Greece having a list of everyone with open connections?

      Why not send a government official to Google to have a quick look and over watch its destruction? If they feel Google may not actually destroy it...well it's digital data. Google could have millions of copies around the world. They could never prove a copy of the data does no exist somewhere by handing over some hardware.
  • by SigILL (6475) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:39PM (#32256042) Homepage

    Google is actually doing a good thing: now I don't have to remember the password for my wireless network; any Android device can automatically look it up on Google's servers.

    Thanks, Google!

  • A few things. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chaboud (231590) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:41PM (#32256070) Homepage Journal

    1. If you run an unencrypted 802.11 network, expect your data to get pwned.
    2. It was an accident of code reuse (seriously, guys, code-reuse accidents happen quite often).
    3. If people were just casually using the internet, https saved their stupid little asses from letting their data out in the wild.
    4. Why do we trust the German government (or any EU government, for that matter) with this data more than we trust Google? I know that the EU is better about not giving companies a blank check, but let's not forget about the kind of crap that governments pull. This is a surveillance freebie, provided that the illicit persons being surveilled are professional idiots (i.e. had an open network).

    Google screwed up, but has the Google-hatred here risen to such a high degree that we're okay with just handing over even accidentally-collected data to the government? I'd at least insist on an independent auditor, to make sure that government abuses of the data didn't take place. With Google's resources, I'd go so far as to take it to the (largely impotent) EU court of human rights.

    • by keithjr (1091829)
      It all revolves around the question: how much do you trust Google? If one is operating on the assumptions that a) this isn't the end-all of Google's illicit data-mining, and b) that not all (if any) of it is accidental, there's a strong precedent to be set here. At least, in the public's hands, an independent audit is possible.

      I'd say we should be more concerned about the crap private companies can pull (a problem we can't solve) with the crap that governments pull (a problem we can solve, in theory)
      • I can't figure out why anyone would think this isn't accidental, though. As the GP mentioned, code reuse accidents happen often enough that it's not even a stretch to believe that explanation. It's very easy to imagine an engineer using the code without fully auditing it first. Yeah, that shouldn't happen and Google should tighten up their reviews and such, but it's still just an accident. Further, what use would Google get out of random samplings of packets on random unsecured wireless networks? I can't im
    • by Coren22 (1625475)

      I don't even see why this is illegal. As far as I can tell, they recorded what access points were broadcasting, from a public space. What's the big deal here? You (Germany) believe you have an expectation of privacy when you are loudly broadcasting to the four corners a welcome to connect?

    • by TheSync (5291)

      Why do we trust the German government (or any EU government, for that matter) with this data more than we trust Google?

      When has the German government ever used information on its citizens for something bad? Oh, yeah, I remember now....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tom (822)

      4. Why do we trust the German government (or any EU government, for that matter) with this data more than we trust Google?

      Why do we trust Google more with it than the government? Right now, only Google knows what exactly they captured. The government wants to know, too. Because they want to snoop on you? Please, be serious. Don't you think they could've their own streetview cars on every corner if they wanted to?

      I personally think our current german government stinks and is probably the worst one we had since the founding of the federal republic. But a rational view says me it's a lot more likely they want the data so they can

  • Oh i get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:44PM (#32256118) Journal

    Google collected broadcast data by accident, but as yet has not violated my privacy.

    So the German government wants Google to violate my privacy by giving my data to the German government.

    Which is (as many have pointed out) exactly who i want to be protected from when I decide to consider my data private.

    Germany needs to be sat down in the back of the EU with a tall, cone-shaped hat on its head. Again.

    • Right, but users like sopssa (1498795) who irrationally hate Google will support this sort of privacy violation in the name of supporting privacy. This is the point where rationality has been lost and the zealousness takes over.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tokul (682258)

      Google collected broadcast data by accident, but as yet has not violated my privacy.

      It violated your privacy. If we follow your line of though, then spies don't violate your privacy. Privacy is violated only by those who get your information from spies. Spies themselves have nothing to do with it. ... Right

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        You consider someone with a laptop spying on you? Any laptop w/ wireless can see this information, it is being broadcast to a public space.

      • by bughunter (10093)

        I don't consider anything I broadcast private. That's why I encrypt it if I plan to broadcast anything potentially sensitive.

        You'd think that even the smallest minds in the German government could understand broadcast =/= private, almost by definition.

    • by keithjr (1091829)
      Google collected broadcast data by accident, but as yet has not violated my privacy.

      Says who? Google?
    • Re:Oh i get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by abigsmurf (919188) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @04:40PM (#32258402)
      They accidentally collected this data? Yeah right.

      Lets assume the quality control for code vital for a project costing many millions was slack enough to let this kind of feature slip by test.

      Would they have failed to notice them filling dozens of HDDs a week when they should've only needed a small number for a country?

      When they went home and looked over the data, you think they didn't notice that they were capturing significant amounts of data alongside SSID, IP and location information?

      They knew all about this and did nothing to stop it. Heck they probably saw it as a bonus (must've kept doing it for a reason, the data storage would eat up valuable budget money)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khchung (462899)

        Exactly. People who think Google could have done this "accidentally" must not have ever done any project involving storing data.

        The data Google collected must have gone through tens of Google employee, you know, the Google that is famous for its very high bar on hiring only those highly skilled, motivated, engaged, creative employees, AND the company's main expertise is data minning.

        Is it likely that all of them didn't notice the extra bulk of data coming in? Heck, some of them might even have been using t

  • It's sad that Google is getting punished for "doing the right thing" and being honest about their screw-up.

    Google: Oops! We accidentally collected all this data we weren't supposed to. Sorry, but we thought you should know. We'll just be deleting* that now... Germany: NO! You don't respect EU laws! Turn that data over!

    If Google had just kept quiet and didn't admit their wrongdoing, nobody would have known about the issue, and there wouldn't be any of the wrangling we see now. But should a company keep qui

    • by Johann Lau (1040920) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @02:02PM (#32256336) Homepage Journal

      Google: Oops! We accidentally collected all this data we weren't supposed to. Sorry, but we thought you should know.

      But that's not what has happened *at all*. From the article of the slashdot story this story links to:

      The Internet giant said it would stop collecting Wi-Fi data from its StreetView vans, which workers drive to capture street images and to locate Wi-Fi networks. The company said it would dispose of the data it had accidentally collected.

      Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research for Google, wrote in a blog post that the company uncovered the mistake while responding to a German data-protection agency's request for it to audit the Wi-Fi data, amid mounting concerns that Google's practices violated users' privacy.

      They're basically saying "let's just forget anything happened" by offering to delete the data. Uh-nuh, not really how it works. If they didn't pay attention and ran software that violated privacy laws, they should be punished. THEN we can delete the data...

      it's exactly this sort of persecution which creates a culture where companies never admit anything, ever.

      What are you talking about? What "persecution"? If they violated laws, they get punished. Where's the problem? I'd rather have corporations involuntarily investigated, than then "admitting their wrongdoings" and there being no consequences for it.

    • by lucm (889690) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @02:36PM (#32256902)

      > It's sad that Google is getting punished for "doing the right thing" and being honest about their screw-up.

      This comment reminds me of the movie "The Quiz Show", when Van Doren confesses his role in the rigging of the game during a House Committee meeting. At first some people congratulates him for coming forward, but then the chairman says: there is no merit in telling the simple truth. Then everybody applauses.

    • by Tom (822)

      It's sad that Google is getting punished for "doing the right thing" and being honest about their screw-up.

      It's not as if they discovered it themselves and brought it to the attention of the authorities. On the contrary: The authorities were concerned, questioned Google, and Google discovered: "oops..."

      And yes, it is proper to punish someone who admits his guilt. It is also proper to punish someone who lies until the end harsher, but saying "ok, I did it" does not get you off free.

      • Technically Google did discover it themselves. They were asked for the data they had collected, they audited it internally and realized they had made a mistake. At that point, rather than try to cover it up, they came clean and admitted the error. They had only been asked to turn over the data at that point, it was still in their hands and they could theoretically have attempted to hide their mistake or claim that the data was corrupted or lost or whatever. I believe many corporations out there would ha

  • Germany Demands Google Forfeit Citizens' Wi-Fi Data

    Surrender the data? Let me Google [google.fr] this.

  • by Torodung (31985) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:54PM (#32256254) Journal

    Germany has certainly been keeping their eye on the search giant.

    Or so the Germans would have us believe.

    --
    Toro

    First time that shtick's ever been funny and accurate.

  • I don't get it. Why the big fuss? It is a car with cameras and wifi driving down public streets taking a snapshot of time. It is one of the coolest projects mankind has ever done. We can go anywhere in the world without leaving our desks. The information is very useful. Why are governments getting in the way of this? It is a fantastic and useful tool.
    • The information is very useful.

      Useful is an interesting word.
      Let's play a game. Pick a theme: Your choices are "naughty" or "nice". Now list as many uses as you can.

  • I used to think that grabbing & keeping 'everything' was good.
    But these days I advise my clients to not collect and/or store more data than they absolutely need, and/or are authorised to do.
    This is as dumb as merchants and others (illegally) holding your bank or credit-card data.
    Google wants 'maps / streetview' to localise you more precisely if you have not GPS by linking your location to a Wifi SSID as well as just the cell towers?
    Great, good idea. Not evil.
    But why the heck do they need to collect the

  • summary says:

    "Google says they've offered to just destroy the data, in cooperation with national regulators, but the German government wants to know what they've collected."

    Ya, that's what the German government says. But more probably:

    "Google says they've offered to just destroy the data, in cooperation with national regulators, but the German government wants what they've collected."

  • ...but abstract it from any locational or identifying data. Wrap it up in a bow and let them waste their time wading through it.

  • The Gestapo was never eliminated it just reinvented itself as the German Government. While one can argue that Google was fairly stupid to collect the data in the first place (why create a potential liability since we know that the "powers that be", not just in Germany, always want more information). What was Google hoping to do with the data -- market locations of open WiFi spots? First of all the *information* is "public" -- anyone citizen is free to collect it (if they want to drive around a fleet of v

  • Did anyone realize that the data could be destroyed by magnetizing the drives and re- aligning the iron?

    Just a thought.

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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