From the latest EDRI-gram:
Google admitted that the previous information on the data they have gathered
with their Street View service was wrong and this included “samples of
payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks.”
Google claims that this was done by mistake and the data was never used in
any Google products. They have also indicated that only fragments of payload
data were gathered because: the cars are on the move, someone would need to
be using the network as a car passed by and the in-car WiFi equipment
automatically changes channels roughly five times a second.
The decision was challenged also by an open letter of the Privacy
International (PI). … PI has also announced that it will seek a prosecution for
unlawful interception under the UK’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act,
noting that “in those circumstances there would be no question of destroying
As PI has recently replied to the public blog post: “This latest incident
was not caused by a mistake; it was caused by a failure of process that cuts
across the entire company. In the absence of a systemic change in product
development and deployment procedures the latest incident will be just one
in a continuing litany of transgressions on personal privacy.”
Really? Really really? Fragments of data no more than 1/5 of a second long, collected by accident (or, at least, without purpose) and never used in a product? A “systemic failure”? A prosecution for unlawful interception?
As Eric Schmidt rightly said, “who was harmed?” The cause of promoting the privacy of web users is not advanced by this sort of over-reaction. Resources, and the attention of the public, are limited. Fight the battles which matter.