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States Launch Joint Probe of Google Wi-Fi Snooping 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-going-away dept.
CWmike writes "As many as 30 states could join an investigation into Google's collection of personal information from unprotected wireless networks, Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal announced today. Google's response was similar to what it said earlier this month: 'It was a mistake for us to include code in our software that collected payload data, but we believe we didn't break any US laws. We're working with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns.' Google already faces investigations by privacy authorities in several European countries, including the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. In the US, Google faces multiple civil lawsuits, and the company has been asked for more information from several congressmen as a preliminary step to a legislative hearing. Google has asked that the lawsuits be consolidated and moved to a California federal court's jurisdiction."
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States Launch Joint Probe of Google Wi-Fi Snooping

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  • still dont see (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tmack (593755) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:42PM (#32647042) Homepage Journal
    Why this is being given such legal scrutiny. Its akin to driving down the street with a tape recorder and parabolic mic, recording whatever conversations people might be having as part of a population density study, and accidentally recording someone in their front yard yelling their cc# into the phone. It should fall under general privacy law: if you dont spend the time/energy to setup encryption of some form, dont expect privacy (same as if you dont try to block peeping toms, or if you go sunbathing nude in your front yard next to the street, dont be surprised to find yourself posted to /b). Even windows warns you now if you try to connect to an unencrypted AP. If anyone should be sued for this, sue the manufacturers that distributed the APs with a default configuration of no encryption and see how well that flies.

    Tm

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)

      Why this is being given such legal scrutiny.

      I think Google is seen as being a bit too successful and there are a lot of companies that would like to see Page & Brin taken down a notch. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find Microsoft's hand behind some of this.

      And just what drain-bamaged individual modded the parent post troll? He's just pointing out the truth: it's your responsibility to secure the radio transmitter that you hooked up to your computer. It's not my my responsibility to avoid picking up your signals. The truth is, when i

      • by Weezul (52464)

        Or maybe BP hoping the oil spill gets out of the news sooner?

      • by macshit (157376)

        Why this is being given such legal scrutiny.

        I think Google is seen as being a bit too successful and there are a lot of companies that would like to see Page & Brin taken down a notch. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find Microsoft's hand behind some of this.

        Also this is seen as a chance for easy political grand-standing by politicians who haven't the faintest clue what actually happened, but can see how to spin it into a "probe" to make it look like they're doing something... and once one politician starts blathering cluelessly about it, the rest are eager to jump on the bandwagon.

      • you'd be bitching and whining about it until your lungs bled. The only reason you're defending Google's reprehensible actions is because you're deeply in love with Google. Indeed, imagine for a moment if the government were going around sniffing wifi data in the name of "protecting the children" or if Microsoft did it for "collecting data to improve the Windows experience." You'd cry all day and night saying that they have no right to do so. But no, you love Google so much that you can't even see straight.
        • First off, Google didn't go around with the purpose of collecting and analyzing your communications as you imply with your government and Microsoft examples. Google's goal was taking pictures for their streetview service and locating wifi networks to use for geolocation, a fairly common practice.

          Were Microsoft doing the same thing for Bing maps I wouldn't fault them either. It has been said here time and time again you cannot expect privacy and security when you are openly broadcasting your network data

          • First off, Google didn't go around with the purpose of collecting and analyzing your communications

            Actually, they did. They chose, configured, deployed, and ran the software that let them do this. They had to store and archive all of those raw packets. They did it for over 3 years. Are you naive enough to think it was all an accident?

            Google's goal was taking pictures for their streetview service and locating wifi networks to use for geolocation, a fairly common practice.

            All Google needed to map open WiFi access points was a 5-column table: ID, LOCATION, SSID, ENCRYPTION_SCHEME, DATE_SEEN

        • you'd be bitching and whining about it until your lungs bled. The only reason you're defending Google's reprehensible actions is because you're deeply in love with Google. Indeed, imagine for a moment if the government were going around sniffing wifi data in the name of "protecting the children" or if Microsoft did it for "collecting data to improve the Windows experience." You'd cry all day and night saying that they have no right to do so. But no, you love Google so much that you can't even see straight. What Google did was wrong, plain and simple.

          Read what I said, dimbulb. Frankly, I wouldn't care if the Feds tried it, or Microsoft or anyone else ... I happen to believe that if you broadcast information in the clear you have zero, and I mean zero, right to complain if someone intercepts that transmission. Period. You're truly dimwitted if you believe that it matters what the law says when it comes to radio transmissions. Look buddy ... you put it out there and if somebody picks it up and uses it against you it's because you fucked up.

          I look at th

      • by Tharsman (1364603)

        He's just pointing out the truth: it's your responsibility to secure the radio transmitter that you hooked up to your computer. It's not my my responsibility to avoid picking up your signals.

        It's also my responsibility to lock my house's door every day, but that does not give anyone the right to open in and walk by my house, much less peak through my stuff or listen in my conversations, because I forgot to lock the door.

        It's not the same, true, but leaving my wifi open is not an invitation to hack into transmissions, at best, its an open invitation for other users to also access the internet through it. I'm no lawyer, and even if I was I could not claim to know the laws in every single state,

        • He's just pointing out the truth: it's your responsibility to secure the radio transmitter that you hooked up to your computer. It's not my my responsibility to avoid picking up your signals.

          It's also my responsibility to lock my house's door every day, but that does not give anyone the right to open in and walk by my house, much less peak through my stuff or listen in my conversations, because I forgot to lock the door.

          It's not the same, true, but leaving my wifi open is not an invitation to hack into transmissions, at best, its an open invitation for other users to also access the internet through it. I'm no lawyer, and even if I was I could not claim to know the laws in every single state, but its very likely if there are investigations going on that the states that have started them do have laws against hacking communications.

          You're confused. Google in no way "hacked" anything (and the term "hacking", in this context, is a media-induced misnomer anyway. You're talking about "cracking".) Sure, if you locked your door and somebody went and picked the lock, that would be akin to hacking. If you put a sign on the outside of that door that says, "hey everybody, look at me, my name is Bob!", well, that's not akin to hacking. It's mere observation, which is pretty much what Google was doing. Google's scanners made absolutely no attempt

    • That happens to be illegal in some states.
      • Re:still dont see (Score:4, Insightful)

        by schwit1 (797399) on Monday June 21, 2010 @07:29PM (#32647462)
        How can it be illegal in 'some states'? isn't this the jurisdiction of the FCC?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jurily (900488)

          How can it be illegal at all?

          Google is using public resources to gather data. It's what they do.

          If you broadcast an SSID to an unencrypted network, it's a public resource, plain and simple. Just because you were too stupid or lazy to do something about it doesn't mean Google's at fault here.

          What next, whine because they spider your web page?

        • How can it be illegal in 'some states'?

          I was referring specifically to the reference of driving down the street with a big fat microphone, recording people's conversations.

          isn't this the jurisdiction of the FCC?

          The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        http://www.irongeek.com/i.php?page=computerlaws/state-hacking-laws [irongeek.com] seems to show a list of some state based ideas on computer infrastructure use and access.
        back from 2005 on wifi
        http://news.cnet.com/FAQ-Wi-Fi-mooching-and-the-law/2100-7351_3-5778822.html [cnet.com] "Are state laws about unauthorized access different?
        Yes, but often not in an important way. Genetski says that "as a general rule, most states model their computer crime laws after (the federal law).""
        So in the US they might be ok for accidentally co
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      Why this is being given such legal scrutiny.

      "I say! There's a bandwagon out there and we're not on it!"

      "Are people paying attention to it?"

      "Whole throngs of people."

      "I'll get my hat..."

    • It's like if you leave your house unlocked, but the liquor cabinet in your basement rec-room is closed, but not locked, but it has a sign on it that says "Don't drink daddy's hooch", but if somebody came down there who wasn't daddy's child, and drank a Coke, but not any hooch, then would it be ok, if the mailman left a package inside the storm door on the porch instead of out in the rain? That's pretty much the best WiFi security analogy I've heard.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ascari (1400977)
      Google == Big Juicy Target. Do you see now?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Angst Badger (8636)

      I'd have modded the parent +1 Insightful, but the truth is that it wasn't actually insightful; it was obvious. If you are broadcasting an unencrypted signal beyond your property line, you are doing just that: broadcasting your data to everyone in range. Complaining when someone actually receives that broadcast is a bit like putting a billboard in your front yard and complaining when people look at it. There should be absolutely no expectation of privacy in this situation, especially when there is no way to

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        "someone actually" is a .com with with real lawyers who told them it was not a good thing to do.
        "broadcasting your data to everyone in range" you can use open wifi, the problem is with collecting and storing.
        "complaining when people look at it" is again what real lawyers told them it was not good to do.
        If you did not want to connect to Google, you have an expectation of privacy.
        "It would have been nice", they seem to have understood they should not have from day one in parts of the world.
        The difference
        • but that's the problem. it's not their data.
          by broadcasting the data via unencrypted WIFI, it's akin to putting up a note on a public billboard asking about pork recipies and putting a note on it saying "hey jewish friends of [me] don't read this please"

          people need to learn that data is not theirs to keep/own/protect. bits are bits, free them already!

          if you want to use the internet, don't complain when people trying to collect the data for the sake of improving the internet collect/store/make use of i
      • Re:still dont see (Score:4, Insightful)

        by murdocj (543661) on Monday June 21, 2010 @09:54PM (#32648546)

        For god's sake, the whole "I was walking down the street and happened to intercept unecrypted wifi" argument is utterly ridiculous. No one "happens to intercept" wifi. You have to actively snoop. If you want a better analogy, try "I walked down the street and opened up people's mailboxes and read their letters. But they had it coming to them, they didn't have lockable mailboxes".

        Google screwed up. Period. If they had simply done what they claim they wanted to do, and only recorded header information, this just wouldn't be an issue. If anyone else drove a fleet of vans around intercepting wifi, people on Slashdot would be going nuts, but because it's the cool company, all is forgiven.

        • For god's sake, the whole "I was walking down the street and happened to intercept unecrypted wifi" argument is utterly ridiculous.

          It's more like, "I was walking down the street and happened to overhear the residents yelling loudly from their porches." If you happen to be walking down the street with a wifi-capable device, you might capture some data, too.

          Look, if you're beaming unencrypted data through my body, it has ceased to be your private concern. It may be impolite for me to look at that data, just as it would be impolite for me to listen to your loud argument with your spouse on your front porch, but there's a wide gulf between

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheRaven64 (641858)

            It's more like, "I was walking down the street and happened to overhear the residents yelling loudly from their porches." If you happen to be walking down the street with a wifi-capable device, you might capture some data, too.

            Exactly. The original poster's analogy was correct. It's fine to walk down the street and accidentally overhear a conversation. It's not okay to walk down the street with a tape recorder and a parabolic microphone and record everything that anyone says. The problem isn't the 'interception' of WiFi signals, it's the storing of massive amounts of aggregate data.

        • "I walked down the street and opened up people's mailboxes and read their letters. But they had it coming to them, they didn't have lockable mailboxes".

          Excuse me? that analogy fails on SO many levels.

          what you describe is analogous to BREAKING the encryption on their mailboxes, and making photo copies of the letters.

          the postal system analogy here would be more like receiving all your postal mail via PDF's short-linked on twitter and "asking people not to read it".

          NOWHERE did google intentionally GO INTO any mailboxes, they just collected data being broadcast freely to anybody who wants it. hell, if it's still being broadcast, the people that contri

        • by MoHaG (1002926)

          Cracking WEP can be seen as like this... You indicate that you want someone not to read it, even if you use something that is trivial to bypass.

          Hell, they even call it "public" or "open" WiFi.

          Google seem to not even have read it, only collected it... Similarly to any potentially "private" things to see on the street that was also collected by the same vehicle...

          If you are discussing private information in a public place you can't complain if it gets recorded / overheard...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Graff (532189)

      Why this is being given such legal scrutiny.

      It's very simple: election time.

      Richard Blumenthal is in the race for Christopher Dodd's Senate seat and so he's using any issue to put himself in the news. Google is a big name and by going after them Blumenthal can get his name splashed across tons of news outlets for some free publicity.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      In many countries it is outright illegal to connect to or listen to traffic on a private network, EVEN if the network is completely and utterly unprotected and admined by a moron. When a large company breaks a law on such a large scale, even if accidental you have got to expect it to receive a lot of scrutiny. Also believe it or not your idea of a tape recorder and parabolic mic is also illegal in many countries unless you have either the peoples permission to record them or court issued warrants.
    • by DJRumpy (1345787)
      The same principal applies to taking photo's of someone without their consent. If you point a video camera into someone's home, you aren't physically entering it, but you would be held liable under the law in any case. There is precedent set for the private sector, which is where this would fall: "Private Sector Electronic surveillance is most common in two areas of the private sector: employment and domestic relations. In addition to legislation in many of the fifty states, Title III governs these areas a
    • by westlake (615356)
      It should fall under general privacy law: if you dont spend the time/energy to setup encryption of some form, dont expect privacy

      To begin, I am not sure there is such a thing as "general privacy law."

      But the interception, disclosure and exploitation of private radio communication was the subject of federal legislation as early as The Radio Act of 1927, when mechanical cipher machines were still in their infancy.

      The fact that eavesdropping on private networks and services in those days was trivially easy

    • Re:still dont see (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday June 21, 2010 @09:58PM (#32648574) Homepage Journal

      Why this is being given such legal scrutiny. Its akin to driving down the street with a tape recorder and parabolic mic

      Actually driving down the street with a tape recorder and a parabolic mic recording conversations should be illegal. If I'm standing on my porch having what I think is a private conversation with someone and someone in a car is recording that conversation with a parabolic mic, it sounds like an invasion of privacy to me. Just because something is done "in public" shouldn't mean that it's meant for public consumption. And if it that private conversation is being used for financial gain, then it's even more egregious.

      Driving by my house and taking a picture is one thing. Driving by my house and recording private conversations is another.

      It's strange that some of the same people who would shit themselves with anger if the government was doing this think it's just peachy if a transnational corporation does it.

      • What?

        if I were sitting in a coffee shop having a "private conversation" I understand that the people around me may hear the details.
        if sitting on my porch, I expect my neighbors and maybe a few service people nearby might gleam a few.

        I'm sorry to break this to you, but your land is NOT your land. you pay your taxes to rent it from the government. there's law's about how much you can keep from the world. there's even a law preventing you from building a concrete wall around your house to keep "all y
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          I'm sorry to break this to you, but your land is NOT your land. you pay your taxes to rent it from the government. there's law's about how much you can keep from the world. there's even a law preventing you from building a concrete wall around your house to keep "all your conversations private" (well, not a law intended to prevent that, more of a decency law really.) :P

          you're living on public land. just because you think something might be private, doesn't make it so.

          I'm sorry, I thought we were talking abo

      • by danmart1 (1839394)
        I'd have to say that having a "private" conversation in public makes it a public conversation. If you aren't trying to keep what you believe to be a private conversation private, while in public, then there is no reason for an individual to suspect that the conversation is private. As my parents used to say "I'm not psychic, don't make me guess." That being said, does having an unsecured wireless network make it public? Imagine a world where wireless communication is the norm. Everyone knows how to secu
    • Why this is being given such legal scrutiny. Its akin to driving down the street with a tape recorder and parabolic mic, recording whatever conversations people might be having as part of a population density study, and accidentally recording someone in their front yard yelling their cc# into the phone. It should fall under general privacy law: if you dont spend the time/energy to setup encryption of some form, dont expect privacy (same as if you dont try to block peeping toms, or if you go sunbathing nude in your front yard next to the street, dont be surprised to find yourself posted to /b). Even windows warns you now if you try to connect to an unencrypted AP. If anyone should be sued for this, sue the manufacturers that distributed the APs with a default configuration of no encryption and see how well that flies.

      Tm

      What if I sniff all the guests' network traffic in a hotel? (via ARP spoofing or otherwise)

      There's certainly no warnings presented in any OS when you plug in ethernet and grab an IP, and the average computer user certainly doesn't know that it's possible to do this.. so, how do you feel about that?

      • you'd be more then welcome to. anything that's encrypted you'll glance over as too difficult to bother with, and I'll appreciate it that you'll leave the encrypted conversation with my significant other alone. the pizza online order details (with the exception of the payment that's encrypted with SSL) and the web history for the night are all yours!

        what else? I expect you were looking for "I get away to hotels to be left alone! how else to i spend time with my mistress?"
    • Google was clearly wrong in illegally collecting this wifi data. Didn't your mom ever teach you basic ethics? Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it. Suppose you left your house unlocked, and I went in and stole everything inside; sorry, buddy, you shouldn't have left your house unlocked, thereby inviting me in take everything. You see, in America and other parts of the world, we live in a civilised society, and civilised people do not go around taking advantage of other people's mi

      • Clearly wrong? Definitely. They even admitted it. The legality is the topic in question. Is it illegal to go into someone's house if they leave it unlocked? Yes, a little, but that's not really accurate. It's more like they opened up your car door that you left unlocked. Which is a little harder to make stick. Ethics and illegal don't belong in the same argument. There are many things that are perfectly legal that are very unethical, and vice versa. Also, ethics are as much an individual trait as
    • Do you actually think that driving down the street with a parabolic mic and recording people’s conversations is a legitimate thing to do? And does the claim that you’re doing it as part of a “population density study” somehow justify it? As opposed to doing it, say, for the purpose of collecting personal information? Most people don’t know how vulnerable they are when they use computers, the internet, Wi-Fi and so on. I’m old fashioned, I know, but I don’t think tha
  • Problem solved (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bennomatic (691188) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:45PM (#32647064) Homepage
    I use WPA on my wifi, so they can't sniff. I do it because there are a lot of people out there who feel that a non-protected wifi link is theirs for the using. If you're worried about Google sniffing, then you should be more worried about people using your wifi to download torrents, bringing your connection under the watchful eyes of the RIAA and MPAA.
    • by Itninja (937614) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:54PM (#32647146) Homepage

      I use WPA on my wifi, so they can't sniff.

      Oh, you're adorable.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Oh, you're adorable.

        Think about it. Do you leave your front door unlocked? Seriously, just because WPA can be broken doesn't mean that it will, at least not by people who are honest. The difference between running an unencrypted WiFi AP and one protected by WPA is akin to the lock on your front door. Sure, the criminals can bust your door down if they want in bad enough, but the lock is sufficient to keep out all but those who are intent on committing a crime.

        If someone breaks your door down, they can be charged with crimin

        • by Itninja (937614)
          WPA 'security' is tantamount to locking ones front door with a hook-and-eye and a sticky note that says 'please don't come in'. I think it's ever-so-slightly better than nothing. Just like Wifi with WPA. But it's silly to make a statement like 'I use WPA so they can't sniff my network'.
          • Meh. You're thinking of WEP. WPA w/TKIP or WPA w/TKIP+AES is a bit better than a hook-and-eye and a sticky note; more like a cheap Chinese-made deadbolt from Walmart, while WPA2 Personal is more like a high-quality deadbolt made with hardened steel. WPA2 Enterprise + Radius is more like a bank vault with an electronic locking system.

            • by Itninja (937614)
              Whatever gets you through the night pal. WPA2 Enterprise + Radius is just fancy name for the sticky note. It's a digital form of security theater. If a hacked wants in, they can do so in about 15 minutes and leave no trace. I doubt even the greatest criminal mind the world can do that with the bank in your analogy.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by MikeBabcock (65886)

            Your front door lock is easily defeated by anyone wanting in your house. Just ask a cop.

            Locks are to keep honest people out. At that level, recent WPA versions are much more secure than house locks.

    • Re:Problem solved (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vivian (156520) on Monday June 21, 2010 @07:03PM (#32647226)

      I use WPA on my wifi, so they can't sniff. I do it because there are a lot of people out there who feel that a non-protected wifi link is theirs for the using.

      The problem is there are some people/organizations who run nodes that ARE free to use - so if you don't want people to use your network uninvited, the simplest thing to do is close the door as you have done. Even the very weakest encryption would be enough to indicate that you do not intend your network to be used publicly. Simply having SSID broadcast turned off with no encryption at all would also indicate you do not intend it to be public, however, if you have your router happily broadcasting it's SSID, with no encryption and transmitting strongly enough to be received by a car driving down the street, well that's basically saying "come use me!"

      Although it is worth investigating exactly what information Google collected and why, that is not what the suit is going to be about - it's going to be a great big money grab by a bunch of lawyers on behalf of a bunch of people who couldn't be bothered to make their wireless networks private, and who lost absolutely nothing at all and were not damaged in any way by Google's actions. (Did Google start using captured credit card details or start spamming some private email address that was captured, or selling any of the private data that was captured other than perhaps the name and location of the node? I think not.)

      Oh and for anyone who whines "oh not everyone is a geek who can understand how to configure a router"
      RTFM! that's what it is for. It really isn't that hard!

    • I use WPA on my wifi, so they can't sniff. I do it because there are a lot of people out there who feel that a non-protected wifi link is theirs for the using.

      Members of the computer culture have long considered the permissions settings of things like file protection to be, not just a mechanical wall, but also an expression of the intent of the user. (This has been true essentially since permissions mechanisms with sufficient granularity to EXPRESS intent were deployed.)

      In general they have honored the int

  • Google is fucked (Score:4, Insightful)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:47PM (#32647078) Journal
    Legal or not, accident or not, there's only two facts that matter:
    • States are desperate for money
    • Google has money

    The state Attorney Generals (Attorney's General for the pedants) can taste the green. They haven't been this rabid since the Big Tobacco lawsuits. I expect Google will make a big donation to "help educate people about identity theft" (read: prop pension plans and make sure state employees and their union masters are happy).

  • ...did Google ever voluntarily disclose they did this?

    The proper actions are as follows: if your company makes a big mistake, you bury it. If someone finds out and makes an accusation, you deny it. If a whistle-blower goes to the paper, you discredit them. And if someone has proof you minimize it, cash out your retirement, and live like a king while the corporation implodes. This is a time-tested methodology.
    • by Sarten-X (1102295)
      "Do no evil" is a great motto, except we're living in a world where evil is expected and normal. Anything abnormal is suspicious.
    • Re:Why of why... (Score:5, Informative)

      by sangreal66 (740295) on Monday June 21, 2010 @07:13PM (#32647296)
      It really wasn't voluntary. Go back and read Google's disclosure again. They were under investigation by Germany on the matter. They originally told the investigators that they don't collect any payload data. Not satisfied, Germany demanded Google audit the data they had stored at which point Google fessed up to saving all the payload data. Really the only voluntary part was announcing it to public in a positive light instead of waiting for the news to break independently.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not satisfied, Germany demanded Google audit the data they had stored at which point Google fessed up to saving all the payload data.

        Oh, wait. You mean, Google audited the data, discovered the mistake, and then announced it? How else were they supposed to announce it? By warping back in time preceding the demand?

        Do you understand what audit means?

      • by Itninja (937614)
        Like I said..it was voluntary. A self-audit is not an audit. They could have easily said 'yep we audited it and there's not data there!'.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      To get out in front of a story in their own way.
      The idea that they had a few local German and Irish data issues but they where in the past and done.
      The story would have then lost all traction.
      When that failed they rolled out the mistake line and stonewalled.
      When it became global, more of the mistake lines and some more stonewalling.
  • Leave it alone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by itsphilip (934602) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:57PM (#32647182)
    Call me naive, but I trust Google. I've been using Gmail since late 2004. I just migrated away from the iPhone after three years; I now have a Nexus One as my primary phone. My calendar, my contacts, etc. are in the Google cloud. And guess what? They've never done ANYTHING to erode my trust in them. In the age of telecom companies trying to cap mobile data plans, and place arbitrary restrictions on IP-delivered media content, Google is busy trying to roll out fiber and generally make the Internet better. I believe that not only do they live by their "don't be evil" mantra, but that they realize the days of the free Internet may be numbered. They're doing their best to save the Internet as we know it. Granted, they have something to gain. But other companies' failure to evolve leaves the door wide open for a company which we should trust far more than AT&T, Time Warner, etc. to preserve the landscape that slashdotters are so eager to protect. The tag is correct, it's a witch hunt. Google admitted their mistake, we move on.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't forget the Data Liberation Front. Google Earth. Sketchup. Android as a viable and open alternative to the iPhone platform. Gmail's crazy high storage limits. Google Voice and expedited Voice accounts for military, then students. Lobbying the government and speaking at federal hearings to emphasize the importance of a free Internet.

      Most companies might have one big pro-consumer initiative every few years, maybe. Google seems to have a new one every quarter or two. It's completely unbelievable. If this

    • Call me naive, but I trust Microsoft. I've been using Hotmail since late 2004. I just migrated away from the iPhone after three years; I now have a Windows Mobile smartphone as my primary phone. My calendar, my contacts, etc. are in the Microsoft cloud. And guess what? They've never done ANYTHING to erode my trust in them. In the age of telecom companies trying to cap mobile data plans, and place arbitrary restrictions on IP-delivered media content, Microsoft is busy trying to roll out fiber and generally m
  • by Masque (20587) on Monday June 21, 2010 @07:00PM (#32647202)

    Does it not seem odd that the Government's reaction to the potential invasion of privacy by a corporation is to... insist upon seeing all of the data?

    • by nbossett (1835098)

      Why would it be funny/unusual for the government to ask to see evidence if there's an allegation or confession of possible misconduct?

      • Largely because in the past 50 years, they have seldom done so even for the most obvious and egregious acts by corporations. Also maybe because it isn't their job or preview to investigate unless it's a national issue of grave import. I hardly think this qualifies, compared to NSA/ATT merger. Or a dozen others we could all name.
  • by Syntroxis (564739)
    Wanna bet that nothing happens 'cause Google was mapping WIFI for the NSA?
  • I'm not sure where all the lawsuits are coming from, but requesting civil lawsuits being moved to a specific location seems like bullying to me. The same tactic Microsoft was slammed on this page for a while back in India or China or where-ever they were fighting with people. I realize it was MS going after people and its people going after Google, but the crime should be tried where it took place.

    It seems like they hope those people would drop the case if it meant an extra expense for them.
    • I'm not sure how they can all be moved to california. If they sniffed the wifi in > and the plaintiff is in >, it would seem as though the plaintiff could argue that the jurisdiction for the tort claim would be >, especially if google was in violation of a > statue.

      > = pick a state, any state.

  • They have that nifty 757 parked next door at Nasa. They can afford the commute(s).
  • The states just want the technology for the spying activities of the various fusion centers.
  • I would bet the life of my cat that this is going to lead to the criminalisation of wardriving. Thanks Google for being douche bags. An accident you say? Yeah right.
  • I imagine that Google's actions are legally distinguishable from wiretapping laws, since they did not access hardware, they only passively recorded information that was visible from public locations. If they had communicated with and established an IP addresses with network routers, it would be a completely different story.

    While it would appear to be ethically fuzzy to collect such data, it may be legally sufficient to demonstrate that such information was being transmitted over public areas, and since n
  • When society turns upon itself and starts to cannabilize the productive parts of itself, doom can't be too far away. It makes me sad that in the land of plenty, our state governments are so starved for resources that they have to go after Google to generate revenue.

    This which hunt has nothing to do with really protecting privacy and everything to do with trying to fine Google. If the states were concerned about privacy they'd be up in arms over the PATRIOT Act.

  • we treat the investigation as an opportunity to create jobs. I predict that our report adds nothing but a bill.

    Do they really think this is good PR?

  • ...be launching a joint probe into ACTA? That's a little more invasive and worthy of investigation, imho.
  • I think this is a partly a result of the midterm elections; officials need to give the appearance that they are working hard for their constituents. Voters tend to suffer from long term memory loss. The other side to this is Blumenthal, who's not universally popular in CT for being a bit too rhetorical and somewhat hypocritical. He has been particularly aggressive towards easy targets, namely the tobacco industry, with which he brokered the $200B settlement, and was then later found to have accepted camp

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