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Connecticut AG Opts For Street View Settlement, Without Seeing the Data 93

Posted by timothy
from the spitzer-would-have-thrust-harder dept.
theodp writes "Verifying Google's data snare is crucial to assessing a penalty and assuring no repeat,' said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal last December in response to Google's 'accidental' collection of payload data from WiFi networks. 'We will fight to compel Google to come clean-granting my office access to improperly collected materials and protecting confidentiality, as the company has done in Canada and elsewhere.' That was then. Luckily for Google, there's a new AG in town, and Blumenthal successor George Jepsen said Friday that his office will enter into settlement negotiations with the company without reviewing the pilfered data, which Google has steadfastly refused to share with it. 'This is a good result for the people of Connecticut,' Jepsen said in a statement. A separate Jepsen press release suggested some of the blame for the privacy offenses laid with Google's victims, who were advised to 'turn off your wireless network when you know you won't use it' to thwart those who 'may be watching your Internet activity without your knowledge."
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Connecticut AG Opts For Street View Settlement, Without Seeing the Data

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  • by DarthJohn (1160097) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @10:25AM (#35048938)

    'turn off your wireless network when you know you won't use it'

    How about secure your wireless network and nobody except those you specifically allow will be able to use it?

  • by Jahava (946858) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @10:27AM (#35048946)

    A separate Jepsen press release suggested some of the blame for the privacy offenses laid with Google's victims, who were advised to 'turn off your wireless network when you know you won't use it' to thwart those who 'may be watching your Internet activity without your knowledge.

    So from the actual link:

    The consortium recommends:

    1. Use anti-virus and anti-spyware and a firewall.
    2. Turn off identifier broadcasting.
    3. Change the identifier on your router from the default.
    4. Change your router’s pre-set password for administration.
    5. Turn off your wireless network when you know you won’t use it.
    6. Don’t assume that public “hot spots” are secure.
    7. Be careful about the information you access or send from a public wireless network.

    Are you fucking kidding me? After all of this, the court case, the hearing, a formal consortium omits the single most important and critical suggestion... turn on WPA encryption and use a VPN or (at least) HTTPS if you're using a hotspot. You know ... the only things that will actually protect your data, rather than obfuscate it?

    I mean, to their credit, the list isn't inherently bad. Hide or disable your identifier, don't use public hot-spots, be careful, etc. However, it leaves the user with a false sense of security. If a user followed every suggestion in that list, Google could just as easily sniff every byte of traffic. Talk about inept and ineffective.

  • by Alpha232 (922118) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @10:29AM (#35048958)

    Ok, Google has it...

    They said they will destroy it, either they do or they don't, it doesn't matter because they will do what they choose. But why go handing a copy over to every state who asks for it?

    Really, if you're concerned about privacy, you want this information in the LEAST number of hands possible.

  • by ancientt (569920) * <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Sunday January 30, 2011 @10:30AM (#35048960) Homepage Journal

    Government should be protecting privacy. It seemed reasonable for a state to want to know exactly how the privacy of its citizens was infringed on. I could see the other side, that knowing what was in the records wouldn't improve anyone's privacy and could actually harm them if their state government representatives turned out not to have the most pristine of ethics.

    That "turn off your wireless network when you know you won't use it" comment sent me clear over to Google's side. The last thing I want is someone who believes that's the appropriate response to be poking through people's personals.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2011 @10:37AM (#35048994)

    I was walking on the sidewalk by his house, and he shouted out the window that he just farted. I took out a notepad and wrote down that the guy just farted. Then he sued me for invasion of privacy.
    ---> Guy gets laughed out of court.

    Same but then something difficult involving "computers and stuff"
    ---> Guy can make it stick ??!!??

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2011 @10:54AM (#35049050)

    If you want privacy then build a Faraday cage. Once you emit any electromagnetic radiation outside the bounds of your property, you have no expectation of privacy whatsoever. If I can see what you're doing from outside of your property, you're not handling your privacy correctly. It's your fault. Stop trying to legislate solutions for a problem that only you can fix.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2011 @11:03AM (#35049078)

    Google listened to publicly broadcasted info and mined it for wireless network SSIDs. Some idiots were broadcasting passwords and other private info that got picked up. Google wasn't looking for that data, doesn't care about that data, and promised to destroy the data. It was barely a story to begin with, it's even less of a story now, and yet Slashdot keeps reposting flamebait from theodp about it almost every week. Why? No one cares except anti-google shills trying to create a controversy where there is none.

  • by laughingcoyote (762272) <{moc.eticxe} {ta} {lwohtsehgrab}> on Sunday January 30, 2011 @11:30AM (#35049190) Journal

    On the other hand, if someone is walking around outside naked, and you just happen to see them, you're not evil at all.

    I'll be the first to condemn Google when they're in the wrong, believe me. But if you leave your wireless open, you are choosing that anyone within range of it can pick up any packets it's sending. Or you failed to learn even the basics of safely and securely operating a device that carries sensitive data. Either way, it is your fault, not the fault of everyone who steps into range.

    Now, were someone to use the gathered data maliciously (posting it in public, for example), you might have a point. But to my knowledge, none of the gathered data here has ever been made public.

  • by Qwavel (733416) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @01:10PM (#35049628)

    It is getting a bit sickening, isn't it: seeing this same story repeated over and over again with minor variations for every district.

    And every time we see this story it seems to get more confused and inaccurate.

    Someone I know got outraged upon reading a recent version of this story. Since they were seeing yet another story they assumed this meant that Google had been caught again - that Google was refusing to stop doing it. I was barely able to convince them that all of these stories were from the original incident and that Google had stopped the program entirely long ago.

    My understanding is that there are tons of nuisance, class action lawsuits against Google over this (on top of the legit privacy suits). The purpose of those suits is to create as much bad publicity as possible for Google in order to induce them to settle out of court, and let the lawyers take the majority of the settlement. Apparently this is a common scenario. Promoting the same story many times, like theodp is doing, is an important part of what these guys do, so it is quite possible that theodp is simply doing his job.

  • by williamhb (758070) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @05:29PM (#35051250) Journal

    I was walking on the sidewalk by his house, and he shouted out the window that he just farted. I took out a notepad and wrote down that the guy just farted. Then he sued me for invasion of privacy.
    ---> Guy gets laughed out of court.

    Same but then something difficult involving "computers and stuff"
    ---> Guy can make it stick ??!!??

    Organise a paid group of people to walk down the streets of every major city, with explicit instructions (equivalent of computer code) to listen for and write down every private conversation they can overhear, and yes you probably will be sued and no it wouldn't be laughed out of court. And if you are arrested by the police and refuse to hand over the notebooks as evidence for the court, saying a big "up yours, cop, my name's Google and everybody knows I can't do anything wrong no matter what your pissy little laws and courts say" things would not go well for you.

    But then this is Slashdot where Google is the equivalent of just one guy who didn't know what he was doing...

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.

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