afraid that legislative meddling will adversely affect his ability to steal data from anyone and everyone on the internet, google pushes back!
read the real story, from the guardian, uk - Technology: Web freedom faces greatest threat ever, Google’s Sergey Brin
ALL YOUR DATA ARE BELONG TO US
Google may have been fined by the FCC for its behavior around the Street View investigation, but privacy watchdogs are still foaming at the mouth that the search giant has been let off the hook for gathering WiFi details. The US Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has taken the FCC to tasks for what it sees as a “surprising” decision to clear Google of violating the federal wiretap act, despite a US federal court ruling otherwise.
see Google and FCC blasted by privacy watchdogs despite $25k fine
Google Fined for Impeding Investigation Into Why ‘Street View’ Project Collected Personal Data
You may remember when it was revealed Google’s Street View cars were collecting more than just images and GPS coordinates. It was found in 2010 the company had “accidentally” sopped up personal data via wireless networks in 30 countries. For this infraction, the Federal Communications Commission launched an investigation and found the collection of this info wasn’t necessarily illegal. Still, the company has now been fined for deliberately impeding the investigation.
The New York Times considers the issuing of this fine and “exasperated tone” in the FCC’s report as a “contrast” to its previous stance on accepting Google’s explanation that the company was “mortified” it had been accidentally collecting private data. The Times has more from the FCC’s report:
“Although a world leader in digital search capability, Google took the position that searching its employees’ e-mail ‘would be a time-consuming and burdensome task,’ ” the report said. The commission also noted that Google stymied its efforts to learn more about the data collection because its main architect, an engineer who was not identified, had invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
When the commission asked Google to identify those responsible for the program, Google “unilaterally determined that to do so would ‘serve no useful purpose,’ ” according to the F.C.C. report.
For reasons such as these, the FCC felt it appropriate to hit Google with a $25,000 fine for violating the Communications Act of 1934, even though it was ultimately determined Google’s collection of the data was not illegal because the information was not encrypted. The Times reports that Canada and some European regulators in their own investigations found some of the information collected included passwords, full emails and instant messages.
see the original article, from the ny times
“Many countries around the world have found Google guilty of violating national privacy laws” EPIC wrote in a statement today. “Surprisingly, the FCC said that Google had not violated the federal wiretap act, even though a federal court recently held otherwise.”
The $25,000 fine leveled by the FCC was over Google’s apparent obstruction of the investigation. The search giant “deliberately impeded and delayed” the FCC’s case, by “delaying its search for and production of responsive emails and other communications, by failing to identify employees, and by withholding verification of the completeness and accuracy of its submissions.”
Google’s attitude toward privacy seems somewhat ironic, given co-founder Sergey Brin’s recent critique of Facebook, Apple and others where he accused them of threatening web freedom. After it was revealed that the Street View cars had been gathering WiFi account details during their photographic missions, Google said it had been “mortified” by what happened.
and there’s this:
Google Buzz Privacy(?)
Over the weekend, Google announced significant changes to its new social networking service, Buzz. Responding to criticism (including EFF’s), Google moved away from the system in which Buzz automatically sets you up to follow the people you email and chat with most. Instead, Google has adopted an auto-suggest model, in which you are shown the friend list with an option to de-select people before publishing the list. While a full opt-in model would be less likely to result in inadvertent disclosures of private information, this is a significant step forward.
In addition, Google said it would show current Buzz users the setup process again, giving a second chance to review and confirm the follower list “over the next couple weeks.” We recommend that all current Buzz users immediately turn off the public list, and review their friend list before making it public again. (Instructions)
Google will also stop automatically connecting Picasa Web Albums and Google Reader shared items, and allow users to hide Buzz from Gmail or disable it completely.
These problems arose because Google attempted to overcome its market disadvantage in competing with Twitter and Facebook by making a secondary use of your information. Google leveraged information gathered in a popular service (Gmail) with a new service (Buzz), and set a default to sharing your email contacts to maximize uptake of the service. In the process, the privacy of Google users was overlooked and ultimately compromised.
Though Google responded quickly to these privacy concerns, they never should have happened in the first place. While Buzz previously had a lot of these privacy options available, the user interface failed to provide users with the setting users had reasonably expected. Google should follow fair information practices and make secondary uses of information only with clear, unequivocal user consent and control.
Part of the problem may have stemmed from Google’s testing process. The BBC reports that Google only tested Buzz internally with its employees, omitting “extensive trials with external testers – used for many other Google services.” Google employees are sophisticated power-users who will meticulously review the available settings. However, a good user interface for privacy must work for all users, and match the default settings with the expectations of the users. Only through broad based testing can Google be sure that users are giving informed consent.
Next week Google will face a federal judge and ask for approval of the Google Books settlement. EFF has raised privacy concerns, including the possibility that Google might make secondary uses of the Books information. Buzz’s disastrous product launch highlights the danger posed by this possibility, and showcases the need for firm enforceable commitments to protecting user privacy.
Reports are coming in of additional privacy issues.
The Register reports that “Google Buzz is susceptible to exploits that allow an attacker to commandeer accounts and even learn where victims are located.” While a security blog now reports this was fixed, Google should conduct a thorough security review to ensure that no other problems persist.
PC World notes that Google’s “vanity URL” functionality presents users with an unfortunate choice: Either expose your email address to the general public, or host your profile at a monstrously long numeric URL. Google ought to provide a third, middle-of-the-road option by allowing users to select a simple and memorable URL which is not based on their email address.
from the electronic frontier foundation
Google deceived Aussie web users with search engine ads
GOOGLE has been found guilty of misleading or deceptive conduct through its placement of advertisements when searches are conducted.
In a judgment that could have implications for the way websites must comply with Australian law, the full Federal Court upheld an appeal yesterday by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that four companies had been misrepresented by Google’s ”sponsored links”, which had suggested a commercial affiliation with a rival.
Four companies – Harvey World Travel, Honda, Alpha Dog Training and Just 4x4s magazine – were affected.
Google contends that its advertisers should be responsible for the advertisements they create on its advertisement-hosting platform.
Chief Justice Patrick Keane and judges Peter Jacobson and Bruce Lander ruled Google had breached the Trade Practices Act by publishing the ads between March 2006 and April 2008.
from the sydney morning herald
Google fined for privacy breaches in France
Google has been fined a record €100,000 for violations of French privacy rules by its Street View mapping service, the country’s data protection regulator said today.
Google’s infractions included collecting passwords and emails transferred wirelessly, the National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties said in a statement.
from the irish times
Google fined by Taipei
Taipei said on Monday it had fined Google T$1,000,000 (US$34,600) for refusing to grant customers a seven-day trial period when they download apps for their cell phones.
Taiwan’s consumer protection law stipulates that consumers are entitled to a seven-day trial period after purchasing any product via Internet, including cell phone software applications.
The Taipei government found that Google and Apple had violated the law and on June 8 ordered them to alter their trading rules.
“Google refused to change its rules,” Betty Chen, the head of a consumer protection at the city government, said. Apple changed its rules.
Under the terms of service for Google’s Android Market, consumers are allowed only 15 minutes to decide whether they want a refund after buying an app online.
In reaction, Google suspended the sale of its paid apps to Taiwanese consumers, according to Chen, who described the move as “unfriendly”.
from channel news asia