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Google Admits To Collecting Emails and Passwords 157

wiredmikey writes "Alan Eustace, Google's Senior VP of Engineering & Research, just put up an interesting blog post on how Google will be creating stronger privacy controls. Right at the end is an interesting admission: that after Streetview WiFi Payload data was analyzed by regulators, their investigations revealed that some incredibly private information was harvested in some cases. Eustace noted that 'It's clear from those inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords.'"
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Google Admits To Collecting Emails and Passwords

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  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @04:39PM (#33990184) Homepage

    Google screwed up here, accidentally capturing all of this data. Why they didn't just delete it, rather than doing this whole "hair shirt" thing is more than a bit weird.

    But: whose fault is it, actually? If you transmit a radio signal into the public domain, do you have any expectation of privacy? Seems to me that the people using unsecured networks share a large portion of the blame here.

    For the obligatory car analogy: leaving your router unlocked is like leaving your car unlocked. Transmitting unencrypted login credentials using your unlocked router is like - what? Maybe parking your car in the Bronx and leaving the keys in the ignition?

  • by ( 1265320 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @04:47PM (#33990302) Homepage
    Google is a very simple company in the grand scheme of things. All they want is to advertise to you.

    All the free services they provide, allow them to get to know what you want, so their advertisements are better targeted: HOPEFULLY allowing you to find what you want.

    I'm sorry: I fail to see the "evil" part of that. they don't sell customer information, they sell anonymous -group- information, and allow advertisers to target ads at those groups. I'm sorry, but I fail to see the evil in somebody knowing that the people interested in "fuzzy kittens" went up by one after you happened to search for it.
  • Re:Not very private. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by poopdeville ( 841677 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:10PM (#33990634)

    If someone stands at their front door with bullhorn shouting out their social security numbers, salaries, sexual orientation and other private details, it isn't the responsibility of passers-by to cover their ears.

    This is more like Google was going door to door, knocking on doors, turning knobs to see if they're unlocked, and sometimes going in and swiping souvenirs.

    You see, an unlocked door is not an invitation to break in. The victim has some share of the blame, but the burglar gets most of it.

  • by Ruke ( 857276 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:07PM (#33991152)

    Google didn't abuse their position as Google to collect this data. Were they skimming emails, search terms, etc for passwords, that would be an abuse. However, they were driving around in a car with a wireless router, something I could do with about as much efficiency. The people whose data they collected didn't entrust it to Google to keep private; they were simply broadcasting data.

    Certainly, Google has a responsibility to not collect, store, and use this data, but they didn't do that. They accidentally copied/pasted the wrong code segment, and ended up logging more than they intended to. Furthermore, once they discovered their mistake, they disclosed this information, and begin working with local governments to correct their mistake. I believe that they acted admirably in this situation; many other companies simply wouldn't have disclosed this information in order to protect their image.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama