As it turns out, Google was evil, after all

So much for Google’s motto, “Don’t Be Evil.”

Read what Wired magazine has to say about the behemoth’s Street View cars, which were supposed to map the world, but ended up, from 2007 to 2010, gathering private citizens’ (and public ones’, too) personal information such as passwords, emails and photographs.

Here‘s Google’s response. Boiled down, the company’s engineers have said they weren’t aware of the cars’ data collection capabilities, so it’s a big oops that they may now be the owner of some really cute pictures of my grandbabies. I love sharing those photos. I just prefer to choose which ones go out.

Regulators are certainly not happy in Great Britain, where they are reopening an investigation on the information gathered by Google. Switzerland has placed some restrictions on the information-gathering, too.

Meanwhile: Street View airplanes, any one?

So much for privacy, and in this world of Facebook and the Interwebs-is-forever, what is privacy? Our technology is pushing us toward a new definition, and I’m not sure I like that. You?

Published by datingjesus

Just another one of God's children.

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    1. Very true, and I’m all for technological determinism — but this kind of gives me the creeps. I’d like to control — at least a little — what people know about me.

  1. That motto always made me uncomfortable. It reminded me too much of the minister whose motto was “Don’t fnck the flock.” Turned out that was exactly what he was doing.

    But the whole privacy issue? I don’t know. I’m pretty careful about my privacy settings on Facebook, and about what I post on the web in general. My wireless router is non-broadcasting and password-protected. And which is worse, really–Amazon knowing your reading preferences, or the feds knowing all your sources of income?

  2. “…company’s engineers have said they weren’t aware of the cars’ data collection capabilities…” I don’t believe that at all. I admit that I’m not the most tech-savvy person around, but here is why I don’t believe it…..

    The equipment on those cars had to be built to do certain things. Anything related to picture-taking is obvious, as is GPS so photos can be place on a map. But wireless data is an entirely different kind of data. Receiving, interpreting and storing wireless data requires different hardware, software to deal with the received wireless data, and a place to store that data. I don’t know any digital camera system that is designed to deal with wireless data like that. And why would it? Photo images of the physical world are vastly different from wireless data traffic.

    So, no, I don’t believe Google’s statement that they were unaware of the cars’ data collection capabilities.

    On another point, Sharon is exactly right: Everybody should set their router to be non-broadcasting, and there should be a very strong password on it… If you want to get an eye-poppingly difficult to crack password, go to a place like, where you can get, for example, a randomly generated 63-character password using printable ASCII characters. Let some bastard try to crack this, for example…

    Warning….. if you use a password like that, you ARE going to have to write it down.

    If you want to see how hard it would be to crack a password by brute force, GRC provides a rather neat free service at this site:

    That password above? GRC says that (Assuming one hundred billion guesses per second) it would take 1.27 hundred million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion centuries to crack. Just a thought.

          1. Excellent point, JPM. Passwords that are incredibly long and random may be more secure, but being able to remember something has a LOT of value, because a password you can’t be remembered or duplicated is absolutely worthless.

            Personally, I think something that takes a few billion centuries to crack is probably quite good enough, and anybody who spent that kind of effort to get at my data would be making a serious mistake in the realm of effort vs. reward. Plus, by the time they finished cracking into my data, the human race probably would have been obliterated already.

  3. Not to defend Google (and I am privacy nut enough to use a no-tracking browser, refuse cookies and keep no search history) but I actually believe that they had no malign, pernicious or even commercial intent; and that engineers collected the data because, well, they *could.* So it;s deleted now, or will be. Which is more than I can say for what the phone and cable companies have been known to do in cooperation with government.

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