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(The New York Times)   Remember how Google was caught illegally tracking users without their consent? Turns out it never happened. Just kidding, it did and was "authorized at the highest levels"   (nytimes.com) divider line 66
    More: Obvious, Google, Marc Rotenberg, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Google Street View, metadata discovery  
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3578 clicks; posted to Geek » on 30 Apr 2012 at 8:13 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-04-30 08:25:15 AM
Somehow the US government prosecuting an organization for surveillance seems half-hearted.

At least the fine matches the importance these fine people place on our privacy.
 
2012-04-30 08:31:05 AM
Don't be evil.
 
2012-04-30 08:31:31 AM
If anything the "fine" was a penalty clause for getting caught.
 
2012-04-30 08:37:56 AM
Telecom immunity has guaranteed corporate impunity.
 
2012-04-30 08:38:40 AM
I think it's as simple as "a company based on data gathering didn't think it needed to ask for permission for everything." You can paint it in a nefarious light if you want, but it doesn't feel appropriate to me.
 
2012-04-30 08:39:56 AM
Queue the "It's ok because they give out lots of 'free' stuff" crowd.
 
2012-04-30 08:41:49 AM
Can someone repost? Damn paywall.
 
2012-04-30 08:42:38 AM

God-is-a-Taco: At least the fine matches the importance these fine people place on our privacy.


You mean, the fine matches the importance the people who were sending unencrypted passwords over wifi placed on their own privacy?

Sniffing wifi is wrong, and Google should have had to pay more than the stipend they were charged. However, this is, to me, very similar to the people who are mad that Google caught them taking a crap in their own front yards.
 
2012-04-30 08:49:44 AM
Remember how Google was caught illegally tracking users without their consent? Turns out it never happened. Just kidding, it did and was "authorized at the highest levels"

Except it turns out that nothing they did actually did qualify as 'illegal'. A lot of people who don't understand how their magic boxes work, however, thought it sounded badwrong and /something/ must be shady about it. Overall this has been a whole lot of noise in the vein of 'Both sides are bad, vote Microsoft.'
 
2012-04-30 08:52:25 AM
Thinking of yourself as "good" sometimes makes it harder to see that you're doing something wrong. I doubt anyone wanted to collect private info for malicious reasons, but the "we're Google, and we won't do anything bad" while collecting private data made it hard for them to see that they were wrong.
 
2012-04-30 09:09:28 AM
This headline is gold. Just kidding. It's crap.
 
2012-04-30 09:16:44 AM

Yotto: Sniffing wifi is wrong


I'm not so certain this is true. Your wifi router is a radio broadcast station. If you don't encrypt that broadcast, you're basically standing on your roof, shouting your porn habits to the world. Nobody is compelled to listen, but you can't blame them when they do.

The only thing wrong here is that Google lied about it. It's the ol', "it's the cover up, stupid!"
 
2012-04-30 09:20:02 AM

God-is-a-Taco: Somehow the US government prosecuting an organization for surveillance seems half-hearted.

At least the fine matches the importance these fine people place on our privacy.


A slap on the wrist to neither prevent Google from harvesting data nor make it appear that the FCC is asleep at the wheel. The internet security people are happy with their "win" and the government doesn't get on the bad side of Google.

The thing that troubles me with Google is they've put themselves in a position to being a gatekeeper of the internet. People depend on them to find everything from recipes to news about privacy infringements like this. They can decide what information is easily available and who's businesses are found (on the internet and, increasingly, on the map).
Its alot of responsibility for one company to bear.

They've also put their services up for sale... particularly to governments.
That is just a troubling combination.
 
2012-04-30 09:25:28 AM
Although it found that Google had not violated any laws, the agency said Google had obstructed the inquiry and fined the company $25,000.

So, Google can collect any information it wants, but if they don't immediately share it with the government, they get a public inquiry and a slap on the wrist.
 
2012-04-30 09:34:56 AM

LowbrowDeluxe: Overall this has been a whole lot of noise in the vein of 'Both sides are bad, vote Microsoft.'


Never thought I'd agree with that sentiment, but...
 
zez
2012-04-30 09:37:32 AM
So if I put a tiny radio station in my house and then send out a signal out in the streets and neighboring houses, and then someone comes by with an antenna and receiver designed to pick up those signals it's THEIR FAULT?

I've never understood this thinking.
 
2012-04-30 09:49:32 AM

zez: I've never understood this thinking.


Not sure if that is a fair analogy.
Its more like if you left a cordless phone in your front yard and someone drives up and helps themselves to a few calls. Then maybe takes down your phone number and checks the dial history... and then adds your address to a global catalog for whatever purposes they have in mind.

Legal or not, its certainly creepy.
 
2012-04-30 10:02:02 AM

LowbrowDeluxe: Except it turns out that nothing they did actually did qualify as 'illegal'. A lot of people who don't understand how their magic boxes work, however, thought it sounded badwrong and /something/ must be shady about it.


I technically break the law every time I reset my router. While my wi-fi's out of commission, my laptop connects to a neighbor's unencrypted network. I really ought to find out where that guy lives and teach him how to secure a network, so I'll quit being a criminal.
 
2012-04-30 10:03:30 AM

Unoriginal_Username: Can someone repost? Damn paywall.


I don't pay - it's a registration wall.
 
2012-04-30 10:06:57 AM

bandy: Unoriginal_Username: Can someone repost? Damn paywall.

I don't pay - it's a registration wall.


Ah, well that's a bit better...
 
zez
2012-04-30 10:08:22 AM

way south: zez: I've never understood this thinking.

Not sure if that is a fair analogy.
Its more like if you left a cordless phone in your front yard and someone drives up and helps themselves to a few calls. Then maybe takes down your phone number and checks the dial history... and then adds your address to a global catalog for whatever purposes they have in mind.

Legal or not, its certainly creepy.


If I have an unencrypted network sending out a signal, it's open and anyone could use it since it's open. Now my encrypted network would be more like your analogy, but then only if I left my laptop out in the yard.
 
2012-04-30 10:12:02 AM

Gonz: While my wi-fi's out of commission, my laptop connects to a neighbor's unencrypted network


It's not necessarily illegal. The law varies very broadly on the subject, and the courts haven't really standardized an interpretation. "Unauthorized access of computing resources" or some wording similar to that is often used as a charge against people for accessing unsecured wireless networks, but it's up for debate as to whether that access is truly unauthorized if it's actually unsecured.
 
2012-04-30 10:21:59 AM

t3knomanser: It's not necessarily illegal. The law varies very broadly on the subject, and the courts haven't really standardized an interpretation. "Unauthorized access of computing resources" or some wording similar to that is often used as a charge against people for accessing unsecured wireless networks, but it's up for debate as to whether that access is truly unauthorized if it's actually unsecured.


It's not necessarily illegal, but it's not necessarily NOT illegal. As you say, there's nothing standard, and there's a debate. That's enough to at least become a colossal pain in the ass if local law enforcement got bored.

I'm not saying that's likely, or even all that plausible. But, there's a non-zero chance it could become a factor in my world. I don't care for a lot of uncertainty.
 
2012-04-30 10:24:38 AM
I for one welcome our new botnet overlords.
 
2012-04-30 10:37:23 AM
It's only illegal if you're Jane Hacker.

Google? Here's your perfunctory fine, would you like to make a contribution to a Super PAC and have a nice dinner at $politician's expense? Also, is there any legislation you need modified?
 
2012-04-30 10:37:43 AM

Gonz: t3knomanser: It's not necessarily illegal. The law varies very broadly on the subject, and the courts haven't really standardized an interpretation. "Unauthorized access of computing resources" or some wording similar to that is often used as a charge against people for accessing unsecured wireless networks, but it's up for debate as to whether that access is truly unauthorized if it's actually unsecured.

It's not necessarily illegal, but it's not necessarily NOT illegal. As you say, there's nothing standard, and there's a debate. That's enough to at least become a colossal pain in the ass if local law enforcement got bored.

I'm not saying that's likely, or even all that plausible. But, there's a non-zero chance it could become a factor in my world. I don't care for a lot of uncertainty.


The person's ISP might get into the fray, with unauthorized use of their resources and/or theft of services. Once they were done with the freeloader, they'd get the enabling neighbor.
 
2012-04-30 10:46:16 AM

way south: God-is-a-Taco: Somehow the US government prosecuting an organization for surveillance seems half-hearted.

At least the fine matches the importance these fine people place on our privacy.

A slap on the wrist to neither prevent Google from harvesting data nor make it appear that the FCC is asleep at the wheel. The internet security people are happy with their "win" and the government doesn't get on the bad side of Google.

The thing that troubles me with Google is they've put themselves in a position to being a gatekeeper of the internet. People depend on them to find everything from recipes to news about privacy infringements like this. They can decide what information is easily available and who's businesses are found (on the internet and, increasingly, on the map).
Its alot of responsibility for one company to bear.

They've also put their services up for sale... particularly to governments.
That is just a troubling combination.



Microsoft has the entire Viacom family pushing their alternative. Ryan Seacrest can't shut up about how much he loves Bing!. TV spots air during primetime for their search engine. They are now the default search provider on several mobile platforms.

What do you think Microsoft does with the data people give them voluntarily?

Google only knows what people tell them. There are other search engines out there. Other ad platforms. Other mobile operating system developers. Other media houses. Everything Google knows about anybody was given to them willingly and openly by those very same people. Even the data gleaned from their little wardriving experiments was given up freely. Google does not know a single thing about anybody that they weren't told first-hand.

How they use that information is up to the ToS.

Anybody is free to go elsewhere. Google has no monopoly. People choose Google because the services they offer are that good, and the data mining has essentially no impact on the users. If it does some day down the road, people will flock away. Until then, there is no "less troubling" option, as you're just substituting one data collector for another.

Or, I guess you could just not use the internet. Or a cell phone. Or a credit card. Actually, just drop off the grid entirely because absolutely everybody is watching you and taking notes.

/and they're troubled by the frequency of your masturbation
//you'll go blind, you know
///Bing!
 
2012-04-30 10:48:05 AM

bandy: The person's ISP might get into the fray, with unauthorized use of their resources and/or theft of services.


Not really. They could use it as grounds to terminate service to their customer, but they really don't have any legal grounds to go after the person connecting to their customer's network.

And if your average ISP went after everybody running an insecure network, they wouldn't have any customers left.

Personally, I have my router hosting two networks- one that's secured for my use, one that's insecure for my visitors' use.
 
2012-04-30 10:51:36 AM

Kuroshin: Google has no monopoly


Technically true, but you don't have to be a monopoly to run afoul of anti-trust regulation. And I think Google is going to be stumbling into some anti-trust litigation in the near future. Remember: you only have to have enough marketshare that you can use your market position to discourage competition. Couple that with Google's "we can do what we want," attitude to things like patent law- I can see them getting into trouble.
 
2012-04-30 11:01:34 AM

Kuroshin: /and they're troubled by the frequency of your masturbation
//you'll go blind, you know


I'll know when they've found my porn because one of their snoops will gouge out his own eyes and run screaming through a window on the tenth floor.

At any rate, I think Google is setting a bad precedent at least.
Microsoft is only pushing Bing this hard because they've seen the gold mine in operation, not necessarily because they know how it works. The FCC letting Google off easy means others will snoop even more aggressively.

"Do no evil" is a matter of your opinion on evil, and Google has a guiding hand on millions of users perspectives.
I think that people wont switch because Google will tell them everything is OK and that all privacy infringement policies are created equal... not necessarily because they are.
 
2012-04-30 11:09:03 AM

Yotto: Sniffing wifi is wrong


Why?
 
2012-04-30 11:29:50 AM
t3knomanserIt's not necessarily illegal. The law varies very broadly on the subject, and the courts haven't really standardized an interpretation. "Unauthorized access of computing resources" or some wording similar to that is often used as a charge against people for accessing unsecured wireless networks, but it's up for debate as to whether that access is truly unauthorized if it's actually unsecured.

From cases I've heard about, that's usually applied cases where people actually connect to and use someone else's network.
In this case it seems someone was just passively recording unencrypted broadcasts, so they might not have been accessing any resources (or violated whatever else is stated in those laws) at all.
 
2012-04-30 11:30:29 AM
Dammit Google, I am fed up, I'm never using any of your... haha who am I kidding? Bring your corporate internet cock closer, so I may suck it some more.

Honest Bender:
Yotto: Sniffing wifi is wrong

Why?


Sniffing strange women's butts at the cinema is wrong. So by analogy, sniffing your neighbour's wi-fi is therefore also wrong.
 
2012-04-30 11:33:35 AM
So just to clarify, this new round of outrage is that instead of a lone engineer acting independently, it was three or four engineers acting independently?

Not defending it, but I don't see it as part of a systematic problem with Google.
 
2012-04-30 11:37:35 AM
1. Was it authorized at over 9,000? Because that would be impressive.

2. In other news, you should immediately upload all of your documents to Google Drive. It's free, you don't have to worry about backing up your shiat, your stuff is available anywhere you can access the web, and best of all - there are no catches! Really! Because Google's totally not evil.

/Oops. I may have overdone the sarcasm in point 2. Oh well.
 
2012-04-30 11:44:17 AM

imontheinternet: Although it found that Google had not violated any laws, the agency said Google had obstructed the inquiry and fined the company $25,000.

So, Google can collect any information it wants, but if they don't immediately share it with the government, they get a public inquiry and a slap on the wrist.


Wait until the CIA or NSA takes over Google before you sound the alarms.
 
2012-04-30 11:46:30 AM
I really don't think that Google has done anything wrong.

/now can I have those pictures and erotic MASH fan fiction back.
 
2012-04-30 11:46:43 AM

zez: So if I put a tiny radio station in my house and then send out a signal out in the streets and neighboring houses, and then someone comes by with an antenna and receiver designed to pick up those signals it's THEIR FAULT?

I've never understood this thinking.


The ol' technicality defense. Bullet point of the simple minded throughout history.
 
2012-04-30 11:49:17 AM

Gonz: LowbrowDeluxe: Except it turns out that nothing they did actually did qualify as 'illegal'. A lot of people who don't understand how their magic boxes work, however, thought it sounded badwrong and /something/ must be shady about it.

I technically break the law every time I reset my router. While my wi-fi's out of commission, my laptop connects to a neighbor's unencrypted network. I really ought to find out where that guy lives and teach him how to secure a network, so I'll quit being a criminal.


Or you could learn how to configure your router so that rebooting it takes less time than switching networks.
 
2012-04-30 11:51:01 AM
Also, there is a scary amount of naivety in this thread. Do you sheep really believe encrypted wifi is much more secure than unencrypted wifi?
 
2012-04-30 11:51:45 AM

Fuggin Bizzy: best of all - there are no catches! Really! Because Google's totally not evil.


dl.dropbox.com

/I see what you did there.
/Applicable
 
2012-04-30 11:55:47 AM

digistil: Do you sheep really believe encrypted wifi is much more secure than unencrypted wifi?


No. But adding a layer of encryption does mean that you can accuse someone of "unauthorized access" to your network, now. Regardless, nothing sensitive should ever rely only on your wireless encryption. SSL is another important layer. IPSEC and the new security features of IPv6 are the next step.
 
2012-04-30 12:02:04 PM

t3knomanser: digistil: Do you sheep really believe encrypted wifi is much more secure than unencrypted wifi?

No. But adding a layer of encryption does mean that you can accuse someone of "unauthorized access" to your network, now. Regardless, nothing sensitive should ever rely only on your wireless encryption. SSL is another important layer. IPSEC and the new security features of IPv6 are the next step.


That's assuming you're smarter than Google, or anyone else that wants to access your home network. If I access your network, you're not going to know by a simple IP or transport count.

I guess I put more blame on Google, than I do my 102 year old great-grandmother. Then again, I know how to use the internet without requiring Google's hand.
 
2012-04-30 12:30:04 PM

digistil: That's assuming you're smarter than Google, or anyone else that wants to access your home network


No, that's assuming that the people who created those security mechanisms are smarter than Google. Read my words carefully: I was not discussing keeping people from accessing the network. I was discussing keeping people from accessing your sensitive information.
 
2012-04-30 12:30:07 PM
Get the Ghostery plug-in for Firefox, people. Google will think you up & died.
 
2012-04-30 01:28:50 PM

Honest Bender: Yotto: Sniffing wifi is wrong

Why?


Because the people who you are spying on don't want you to do it, don't know about it, and would stop you if they knew what was going on.

I did not say illegal. I did not say it was as bad as murder. But it's wrong.
 
2012-04-30 01:36:39 PM

Yotto: Honest Bender: Yotto: Sniffing wifi is wrong

Why?

Because the people who you are spying on don't want you to do it, don't know about it, and would stop you if they knew what was going on.


It's not spying. You know that. And if the people didn't want you to listen to their broadcasts, they'd take steps to prevent you from doing so. The fact that they haven't bothered to secure their wifi means they don't care who listens in.

I did not say illegal. I did not say it was as bad as murder. But it's wrong.

I didn't say illegal either... not really sure what point you were trying to make there.
 
2012-04-30 01:43:57 PM

Yotto: Honest Bender: Yotto: Sniffing wifi is wrong

Why?

Because the people who you are spying on don't want you to do it, don't know about it, and would stop you if they knew what was going on.

I did not say illegal. I did not say it was as bad as murder. But it's wrong.


so because people are so ignorant of the world around them and how to properly use their equipment because they are lazy and stupid means I shouldn't sniff wifi? What kind of drugs are you using?
 
2012-04-30 02:24:47 PM

Yotto: I did not say illegal. I did not say it was as bad as murder. But it's wrong.


Much like how looking at the Emperor's wang is wrong, even though he's parading through the streets nude.
 
2012-04-30 02:25:58 PM
Extra creepy street view car tracking aside, Google and Facebook are always tracking us and we all seem to agree that it's creepy and bothersome. But it also seems like targeted advertising is something that should be desirable, and there's plenty of information that people don't care about Facebook knowing. I don't care if they know that I like 30 Rock and play Team Fortress, but there's plenty of things I'd rather keep private.

Why not just give users access to this information and let us remove the bits we don't want them sharing with advertisers? I understand this decreases the value of the information to an extent, because there will invariably be less of it to sell, but isn't the increase in trust and decrease in creep factor worth it?
 
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