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Google Privacy Wireless Networking Your Rights Online

Google Street View Wi-Fi Data Includes Passwords, Email Content 292

snydeq writes "The French National Commission on Computing and Liberty has found passwords and email messages among the Street View Wi-Fi data Google intercepted, InfoWorld reports. The data protection authority has been investigating Google's recording of traffic carried over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. Google has said it collected only 'fragments' of personal web traffic as it passed by because its Wi-Fi equipment automatically changes channels five times a second. With Wi-Fi networks operating at up to 54Mbps, however, those 'fragments' may have been more than that. 'We can already state that [...] Google did indeed record email access passwords [and] extracts of the content of email messages,' CNIL said."
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Google Street View Wi-Fi Data Includes Passwords, Email Content

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  • Well.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Friday June 18, 2010 @01:54PM (#32615722)
    If you're stupid enough to access information you care about and wish to keep private via an insecure link, then you're asking for trouble.
  • Yikes! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Friday June 18, 2010 @01:54PM (#32615726)
    This went from "it was an accident" to "there's nothing in the data anyway" to "hey, will you look at that! How'd that get in there??"
  • Re:Well.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:02PM (#32615860)
    Perhaps not, but I don't think Google should be faulted for obtaining what is essentially information being made public. Now, if they were doing things like cracking somebody's WPA-protected (or hell, even WEP) wireless signals, then yes, they should be.

    Analogy time....say somebody is in their front yard, holding up a big sign that has their "my bank password is xxx". Should someone passing by in the street get shit for looking over and noticing that?
  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:05PM (#32615914)

    On further thought:

    The only thing I can see that might make it legal is that all wireless routers are Part 12 devices.

    But then you're pitting one federal law against the other. Who wins?


  • Re:Yikes! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:12PM (#32616044)

    I think the question we need to be asking ourselves is.. should we be more worried about:

    a) Google collecting snippets of data as they worked on building an incredibly precise geo-location database
    b) Governments trying to impose 'net filters' with anonymous blacklists and saved web history*

    * See:

    People are all up in arms against Google for seeing data that's available to any tom dick or harry that parks nearby your house yet ignore the fact that governments (and not just the Australian one) are already doing this or are trying to get support to do it.
    This world is stupid, I'm moving to mars.

  • Re:passwords?! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tibman ( 623933 ) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:20PM (#32616218) Homepage


  • Re:Encryption (Score:3, Interesting)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:25PM (#32616324) Homepage

    It was once the law in the USA that anyone was free to listen to any radio transmission and disclose anything they heard. It was up to those operating the transmitter to encrypt their secrets and/or control the direction of their transmissions. This should, IMHO, still be the law. Why should I not be allowed to receive radio signals you send onto my property? Why should I be obligated to protect your secrets after you've blasted them out to the universe?

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:37PM (#32616526) Journal

    That's an ECPA violation there, Google. And it's a felony.

    Not if it occurred in Europe, since the ECPA is US law. Doesn't apply in the US, either; by the terms of the ECPA a unencrypted wifi signal is "readily accessible to the general public", and thus not covered. (See 18 USC 2510(16), and 2511(2)(g)(i))

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:46PM (#32616706) Journal

    In many states, yes. Many states have "wiretapping" laws that make it illegal to record a conversation unless all parties are aware that it is being recorded. This is increasingly being applied to public spaces as well. There's a high-profile felony case in Chicago about this right now.

  • Re:Well.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by balbus000 ( 1793324 ) <> on Friday June 18, 2010 @02:50PM (#32616800)

    Much, if not most, of polite human society throughout history is based on pretending you didn't overhear coversations between people.

    Which is what Google did. If they had actually used that information, then in the analogy it would be someone overhearing something the shouldn't have and then going home and saying "OMG, listen to this gossip! ...". But Google didn't do anything with that information they "overheard".

  • Re:Well.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday June 18, 2010 @05:16PM (#32619156)

    Analogy time. If I snoop on an open server from a big company, I will get send to the big house. So the same should apply here. Either drag every person responsible to jail or allow people to snoop on open servers.

    Unfortunately the law will side with the company on both cases.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner