Google Street View goof up – Privacy Invasion, data theft and Apologies

You might have heard of Google street view, heck, some of you might be avid users of Google street view, which is aGoogle Street View goof up – Privacy, data theft and Apologies - service that allows you that provides panoramic views from various positions along many streets in the world. Google managed to pull up that by using its elite squadron of sophisticated technocars to capture both imagery and 3D geometrical data for Google Maps and data about Wi-Fi networks that it uses in its geolocation-enabled applications. The practice of mapping and gathering data has always been a controversial practice (giving too much of power in Google’s hand, or in any techno firm is a bad omen.). It was on April 27 when Google tried to clear up misconceptions in a blog post which can be easily summarized as -
  1. We are not invading anyone’s privacy &
  2. Take a look around folks, other people have been collecting data even longer then we have.
While the whole posts was quite edgy in nature, Google tripped and now has stated in an updated post that it was not only collecting SSID and MAC information from the wifi networks, but also “fragments” of payload data from open and insecure wifi networks they drove by. At the request of the German government, Google audited its data collection system more carefully & discovered that Street View cars have been accidentally using a piece of software that can collect data being transmitted over insecure wifi networks. But it was further clarified that since the cars were always moving and their networking monitoring devices changed channels five times a second, Google says they "typically" only picked up "fragments" of data.
Google Street View Cars -
Nevertheless, cars have been temporarily grounded and the data has been isolated till someone figures out what do do with it. Google intents to hire a third party to examine the software is "profoundly sorry for this error" and will try to learn from it. Quoting from the official blog post

The engineering team at Google works hard to earn your trust—and we are acutely aware that we failed badly here. We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake.

Inner thoughts -
I am glad German authorities are competent enough to sniff and dig facts and give an earful to Google.
Data collection is a scary thing anyways..we need to be paranoid of what data we are allowing to be public and private considering the vast attempts of world to catch us with our pants down :P Who knows that data might be jacked up with folks at CIA/FBI/NSA to track some sucker down (there's always a chance…remember FBI carnivore ? anyone ?).
Before the screw up, Google insisted what they were doing was nothing wrong. Frankly speaking, NO company ever admits to invading anyone's privacy. It's always "your privacy is important to us" blah blah blah…skepticism is the key to protect ourselves anyways.
In the end,

if privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy
(sorry if I sound corny.. but I couldn't think better)

Privacy Outlawed ? ah well.. -


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