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Troi
Posts:4431
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Google Data Collection
OK, so BBC reports
Quote:
Google has admitted that for the past three years it has wrongly collected information people have sent over unencrypted wi-fi networks....These snippets could include parts of an email, text or photograph or even the website someone may be viewing.

Google response
Quote:
Google said during a review it found it had "been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open networks"...Google said the problem dated back to 2006 when "an engineer working on an experimental wi-fi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast wi-fi data".
That code was included in the software the Street View cars used and "quite simply, it was a mistake", said Mr Eustace.

Now that is some "mistake"....

I can see no logical reasons why this code was in this piece of software - and I would certainly question the "mistake" as unintentional.

Here is link to BBC report [news.bbc.co.uk]
May 16, 2010 12:42PM
DamonHD
Posts:6158
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
No, no, no... I think this has been way over dramatised.

All that will have happened is some engineer with an enquiring mind thought he'd do some interesting data sampling and analysis on unencrypted *public* traffic during development (this is already washing dirty linen in public, and how I knowingly have my WiFi unencrypted for example) and then his team didn't think through the consequences of NOT removing it from code that went out in production.

Stupid, yes, but it will have been a tiny fragment of code, easy to overlook, so most likely not any sort of conspiracy.

Rgds

Damon
May 16, 2010 03:40PM
Troi
Posts:4431
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
A tiny fragment of code that has "accidentally" sneaked its way into a software program that has absolutely nothing to do with gathering "personal" data. How silly of me, an obvious oversight from arguably the Worlds largest online organisation. I'm sure these things are easily overlooked! The fact that they did "gather" the information, and that no-one saw any reason to question that said information had been gathered inapropriately never arose. Easy error, I guess - not.
May 16, 2010 04:27PM
DamonHD
Posts:6158
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
But Troi, Google was in any case sampling the data stream of WiFi because they (along with other companies) offer a service that helps provide location information when GPS is not available (eg because the handset doesn't have it) by noticing which WiFi sets are in range.

Slightly dubious at a number of levels, but not limited to Google and not illegal.

And that data was in the clear, as clear electronically as the sights that Street View photographs. So I find it difficult to welcome one service and be outraged by the other.

The error was in retaining anything other than this metadata.

And indeed it takes a lot of effort to persuade certain engineering and marketing droids that retaining excess info isn't harmful: thus my battle with a certain disc manufacturer recently if you recall.

Rgds

Damon
May 16, 2010 05:01PM
Troi
Posts:4431
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
So having - and retaining - information regarding my emails etc is relevant to collecting data (images) for Google street view????? How do the two meet?

winking smiley
May 16, 2010 06:35PM
DamonHD
Posts:6158
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
It isn't and shouldn't have been done, though as it will only have been at most what they might have retained *as they drove past your house* and if your mail session is not encrypted then it would hardly be substantial.

As I say, I suspect that G failed to take out the "sample all the data we can see" module rather than putting it in on purpose.

Rgds

Damon
May 16, 2010 07:28PM
Troi
Posts:4431
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
Sorry Damon, I just fail to see the reason it was there - the purpose of the exercise was to "photograph" streets. I see absolutely no reason to have gathered any other information. It was a photography exercise - NOT a data gathering one.
May 16, 2010 07:32PM
DamonHD
Posts:6158
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
As it happens various EU data-protection officials agree with you.

[www.theregister.co.uk]

But it still doesn't make what G was doing unique or sinister, just foolish. IMHO...

Rgds

Damon
May 16, 2010 08:19PM
Troi
Posts:4431
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
I don't think "foolish" is an acceptabe phrase - or excuse - for collecting data unrelated to the project in question, or violating peoples personal privacy. the bulk of people open to this violation, are those that really don't have the where-with-all- to encrypt their systems to avoid "violation2 by third parties. the information, in my opionion, was irrelevant to the project in question - they intrinsically must have known that the information was being gathered - therefore they are infringing privacy.

Just my humble....winking smiley
May 16, 2010 08:42PM
Joshua
Posts:2831
Administrator
Member since: 2007-03-16
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
But they weren't trying to break into your router, they didn't use your bandwidth, they didn't try to hack your security system. Not even trying to bypass a simple security measure as access to certain MAC addresses only. They picked up a radio signal that was sent out by you.

And yes, Google wants to know these open "hotspots". Who said they drove around your street to take pictures only? I really can believe they took a little too much info by mistake.
May 16, 2010 09:38PM
Troi
Posts:4431
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
OK - so the average bod knows nothing about internet security - were they notified of "google street car" visiting? I'm not totally anti the "street-car" view, but I also see absolutely no need to gather "other" information. This, to me, is a total infringement of privacy - as you have not been made aware of it in advance, therefore you have not been able to make an informed decision, and where able/possible take measures to protect your own privacy.
May 16, 2010 09:51PM
Joshua
Posts:2831
Administrator
Member since: 2007-03-16
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
In part I agree with you Troi. Maybe it's a good thing this news went mainstream just because it's Google. I'm sure they won't do anything with the gathered private info.

Let it be a warning that everyone, also the ones with bad intentions, can do the same.
May 16, 2010 10:11PM
DamonHD
Posts:6158
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
J: very good point and worth remembering...

Rgds

Damon
May 16, 2010 10:13PM
Troi
Posts:4431
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
Hey Damon - what about my point??? Don't you love me anymore? What happened to my stalker? winking smiley
May 16, 2010 10:18PM
DamonHD
Posts:6158
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
I think J hit it on the head with "they weren't trying to break into your router, they didn't use your bandwidth, they didn't try to hack your security system" so in some ways (and you won't love me for repeating myself on this) if they happen to record what you are *broadcasting* to the world unencrypted then there is no real claim of privacy I think, ignorance being no excuse all round.

But I have no time for paparazzi, and this is uncomfortably close in some regards.

And why would I need to stalk you T, when G does it so much better? %-P

Rgds

Damon
May 16, 2010 10:46PM
Troi
Posts:4431
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
The point being - why should, or would, Google need this information to fulfill their mission of Google streets? It bears no relevance to what they were/are trying to do.
May 16, 2010 10:52PM
Joshua
Posts:2831
Administrator
Member since: 2007-03-16
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
Knowing to what "hotspot" you're connected to gives GEO information. Knowing where there are "Hotspots" can give info that may be worth showing on the map. Just to name two.
May 16, 2010 11:30PM
Troi
Posts:4431
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
Only fair enough IF you know in advance - and are therefore given the option. It is really no different to your figerprint being taken and stored on a database without your knowledge....which, of course it could be!
May 16, 2010 11:34PM
Joshua
Posts:2831
Administrator
Member since: 2007-03-16
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
You have that option. The device (being it Laptop, Phone, Iwhatever) doesn't need to connect automatically, It's what we all seem to want. The price is we can track where it was (without knowing who you are).
May 16, 2010 11:46PM
Troi
Posts:4431
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
Within our realms - intrinsically being part of "here" - we've probably got an ounce more "know-how" than the average, and have probably got our selves password protected - this is more our line of work than the average joe bloggs.

The average Joe, has bought their PC form PC world, with Norton "pre-installed" and think that they are totally "protected". It is these bods - that think they are "invisible" - but aren't - that I feel so sorry for.
May 16, 2010 11:56PM
James
Posts:1757
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-29
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: Google Data Collection
I don't really have an issue with Google trying to build a database of publicly available wifi hotspots. However, I do think they need to do more in the way of checking on what they have found before including it on a database. For example, most PC world punters that have just plugged it in and totally ignored all the boxes in setup asking them to set up security will probably be broadcasting the network ID as something default such as the make and model number of the router, or possibly one of the OS defaults such as MShome. Google should reaslise that what they have found is some idiot that can't be trusted to have a PC let alone a wireless network and ignore that data. Maybe send them a freindly letter saying they picked it up as it was publicly available and they might like to review security. Publicly available hotspots will probably have an ID name that suggests so, and a manual review of the data by someone with a bit of common sense would be able to spot this. However, as we know G will spend 1000000 on algorythms rather than 1000000 on people to do a better job, so if they get their knuckles rapped then I don't have a great deal of sympathy for them.
May 17, 2010 08:00AM

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