Google’s “Hack”

Quick Bits - Commentary placardThis is the non-story that just won’t go away. The big bad Google drove around stealing data by “hacking” people’s wireless network. Articles such as those at the Huffington Post contain quotes such as “one of the most massive surveillance incidents by a private corporation that has ever occurred.”

Google collects a hell of a lot of data that concerns me more than this. In this case what seems to have happened is Google collected data from unsecured wireless networks as it’s street view vehicles drove around. The real lesson here is Secure Your Wireless Networks! Even if the network was protected by the easily breakable WEP encryption Google would not have gotten the data.

Of more concern than the actual data being collected was that Google used some library code in a project without knowing what it did. I have concerns about how Google collects and uses data along with a big concern about mistakes that could expose that data.

Google’s explanation rings true. It doesn’t make me feel any better about Google’s ability to avoid mistakes, but it doesn’t make me any more worried about Google’s intentions. But our politicians now have an event they can latch onto and appear to be cracking down on privacy. What would make me more concerned is that some governments have requested copies of the data rather than telling Google to destroy it. Luckily some governments (Ireland) have it right and have had Google destroy the data.

Google’s bungling attempt to try and make email social via Buzz concerned me. Google using code they didn’t understand concerns me. Google collecting data that’s already flowing wide open in the air doesn’t concern me.

Sure, they couldn’t do it on the scale of Google, but criminals could drive around doing the same thing, and then using the data they collect.

Update: Well, it looks like Google was throwing away encrypted data and keeping the unencrypted stuff. Still, it’s more worrisome to me that seems to be a mistake or careless rather than some attempt to collect info.

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