Recently, it was announced that the little cars driving around the world, with cameras taking pictures for Google’s Street View – pictures used for Google Maps – had grabbed privacy information from many homes they drove past for three years.
How? Because when a consumer sets up a wireless device, they have to set up a password to make it private. Many do not. If they don’t, then ANY passing wifi device – ipod Touch, iPhone, laptop, netbook, portable game devices, etc… they all can jump on that ‘free’ wifi. According to law, if you do this you are breaking the law. Yet the devices come out of the box with free, insecure wifi.
Google admitted that they grabbed statistical information from these open wifi devices when driving past, but tossed away privacy information. They explained they made a mistake but did nothing with this information.
Recently, Wired wrote an article explaining this lawsuit is going to head into Silicon Valley. I want to respond to the comments within this Wired article and to those who are absolutely certain Google is evil and stealing precious and private information, and selling it to others without the consumer’s knowledge. This is also a response to Attorney Genera; Blumental’s case claiming that Google is hurting consumers.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal IS KNOWN for starting lawsuits to gain personal popularity. His past cases have been documented to waste everyone’s time, and money. Blumenthal is simply looking for cheap press in the guise of helping consumers and citizens, yet they only give PR to Blumenthal’s name.
Additionally, to represent his ethics – he represented himself to be a Vietnam vet, and was later found to have been lying. (check snip url dot com slash attyblumfail )
The disgusting part is not so much that he is trying to get center spotlight using Google, but that he has signed up many more participating attorney generals in other states to follow him. I am absolutely certain that Blumenthal us using the lack of knowledge of all potential members of this anti-Google team to approach this issue. The end result of this is each attorney general that signs up with Blumenthal is actually wasting their time and money.
It can be said Google potentially grabbed email header information. The more surprising thing is when I moved, I filled out a change of address form, and specifically requested my information not be given to vendors. I spelled my name and address with a unique designation on this change of address form. Suddenly, Crate and Barrel, State Farm and others are sending me tons of mail using this uniquely identifiable address designation. Unlike Facebook, the US Post Office, many banks and credit reporting agencies, Google did not sell their gathered wifi information. Why Blumenthal does not include the groups and companies that are more offensive and heavily evidenced to release private information, Google already admitted they grabbed this info and said they screwed up and deleted it. The information they collected was CONTEXTUAL, at best. Once this Google wifi information taken away from the physical location, it was no longer in a significant CONTEXT.
Meanwhile, many companies who lobby congress have privacy clauses to allow them to freely leverage YOUR personal information; banks, brokerage houses, auto insurance companies, junk mail gorups, phone solicitors, fake online yellow page listing companies. Whereas Google keeps your information private within Google.
If Blumenthal was sincere to help US citizens, he would be helping citizens protect their privacy through setting up international laws for catching thieves stealing our identity.
The US doesn’t need another Blumenthal case. He is exactly like Robert Preston’ Harold Hill in Music Man. (Watch the scene where he sings Trouble – it’s on youtube. Watch it three times and then watch Blumenthal. You may have a hard time seeing a difference.)
Google’s intent and motivation is more complicated than any current attorney general can comprehend.
The only people who have motive in going after Google are those that want personal notoriety, or who compete with Google.