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37 States Join Investigation of Google Street View 269

Posted by samzenpus
from the loking-into-the-lookers dept.
bonch writes "Attorneys General from 37 states have joined the probe into Google's Street View data collection. The investigation seeks more information behind Google's software testing and data archiving practices after it was discovered that their Street View vans scanned private WLANs and recorded users' MAC addresses. Attorney general Richard Blumenthal said, 'Google's responses continue to generate more questions than they answer. Now the question is how it may have used — and secured — all this private information.'"
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37 States Join Investigation of Google Street View

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  • Blah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dissy (172727) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @04:30AM (#32987262)

    *sigh*

    That was some really nice street view mapping, location discovery, and concept of 'out in the public' we had there once :/

    • Re:Blah (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ultranova (717540) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @08:26AM (#32988412)

      That was some really nice street view mapping, location discovery, and concept of 'out in the public' we had there once :/

      Yeah, we had such concepts once. That was before everything you did "out in the public" was recorded and followed you everywhere.

      "You have no expectation of privacy in the public" was fine when "no privacy" meant that you could be observed, but stops being fine when "no privacy" means "everybody you ever interact with can view a record of everything you've ever done". I, for one, do not wish to live under the Lidless Eye.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "You have no expectation of privacy in the public" was fine when "no privacy" meant that you could be observed, but stops being fine when "no privacy" means "everybody you ever interact with can view a record of everything you've ever done". I, for one, do not wish to live under the Lidless Eye.

        And yet there's no way back - it's just another, darker side of "information wants to be free". You can try to legislate it, but technology today makes stalking people easy and even trivial, and anonymity (or rather sufficient degree thereof) is not hard to achieve on the Net for those in the know, and then gathered information can be spread far and wide.

        The only positive thing in this is that everyone is affected. Consequently, this is going to be a cause of a major shake-up in our cultural values, with mu

    • How Dare They! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cgenman (325138)

      How dare they collect private information like MAC addresses! Those carefully shielded numbers are there for an important purpose: to be kept safe from prying eyes, hidden behind a shield of apparently unlocked wireless networks.

      Asses.

      WRT network content: If you decide that a regular house isn't good enough for you so you buy a fully glass house, then don't hang up any curtains, what the heck did you expect to happen? "Oh look, this big bad corporation took photographs of my completely glass house! They

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532)

      Just because Google gets investigated doesn't mean competitors won't be happy to pick up the slack. It's not like Google is all that exists and that nobody else could do it.

      This is Google's fault for making bizarre mistakes with its scanning software. It deserves a little smackdown to remind it of how careful it needs to be.

  • Or (Score:4, Funny)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdotNO@SPAMspad.co.uk> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @04:31AM (#32987270) Homepage

    37 States jump on Google Street View bandwagon.

  • Private Info? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by breser (16790) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @04:33AM (#32987274) Homepage

    Seriously, who thinks this info is private? We're talking about payload data from unsecured wifi. For that matter we're talking about payload fragments.

    Obviously, Google shouldn't have collected this. Obviously, Google shouldn't disclose this information to anyone, including governments.

    The data should be destroyed and everyone should move on.

    Google didn't collect anything that someone with a wifi card and some easily obtained software couldn't obtain.

    Simply put, if you're concerned about privacy secure your wifi because without some encryption you really don't have any privacy.

    • Re:Private Info? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by houghi (78078) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @05:55AM (#32987668)

      I think this is private. I think that even if I do something in public, there is no reason that it should be legal to record it and use it to cross reference it.

      In the past, you are in a public place and people see what you did and had to recollect it from memmory, likely to forget most.

      In the present, you are in a public place and machines record and register what you do. Everybody and his little brother is able to see what you did for all of eternety. Also they are able to crossreference it with everthing else.

      Just because it is legal to keep all this data, it does not mean it should be.

      For me privacy is not about the place, privacy is about the person.

      • Re:Private Info? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by silentcoder (1241496) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @06:20AM (#32987764) Homepage

        >For me privacy is not about the place, privacy is about the person.

        Perhaps - but what google did isn't like hiding in a bush behind you recording your conversation with your girlfriend. It's more like you are standing on top of a chair shouting "I love you Jane Fonda will you marry me" and they record it.

        Seriously - when you BROADCAST information, without making any attempt to limit who can receive it despite your broadcasting device being equipped with the means to do so you can't expect it to be private afterward.

        Or to use an analogy I used in a previous story on this topic: If you shag your girl against the window without closing the blinds you can't blame the neighbours for staring - not even the pervy fat-guy across the road who videotapes it (and then posts on slashdot about privacy concerns).

        I can even give you a car analogy. If I take pictures of the highway as you drive by - and thus get a picture of your car showing make, model and registration - how did I invade your privacy ? If I do it in your own front yard I still didn't invade your privacy - especially since, if you really cared, you could easily have draped a car-condom over it.

        Information you broadcast without limiting who can receive/understand it - is not private information - your own actions have MADE it public information.

        • Re:Private Info? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymusing (1450747) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @06:35AM (#32987826)

          Information you broadcast without limiting who can receive/understand it - is not private information - your own actions have MADE it public information. (emphasis added)

          Therein lies the problem. The average consumer does not think of wireless networking as "broadcast" information. They still consider it private. This is partially a lack of understand of the technology, and partially because it does not occur to most people that anyone else might try to snoop.

          If I don't want you petting my dog, I can put up a fence around my yard that keeps the dog in and strangers out. But there's no fence I can use to stop wireless signals from going past my physical property, or to keep you from petting my computer... digitally, I mean... hey, stop it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by DJRumpy (1345787)

            From what I've read, it doesn't matter as it was not intended to be public. This relates to the same situation police officers faced attempting to record thermal data by reading the thermals off the side of a person house. They argued that since they were not entering into a private residence, but rather reading the data from the external walls, that there was no invasion of privacy. The supreme court threw the argument out, indicating that there was an expectation of privacy involved, and that it was not l

            • Re:Private Info? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by silentcoder (1241496) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @07:41AM (#32988128) Homepage

              Not even close to the same ballpark... hell it's not even the same damn sport.

              If a policeman walking down the road sees you shooting a gun at your girlfriend through the window with the open blinds he will damn sure rush in and intervene. "Plain sight" is not covered by the 4th ammendment and broadcast data is much closer to "plain sight" than thermal imagery from INSIDE the house.
              More-over there is no practical way to PREVENT thermal energy if you want to, but it's easy to prevent broadcasting unencrypted wifi. Every damn router on the market has an easy setup wizard that suggests encryption as the RECOMMENDED DEFAULT. That makes disabling it an act of choice. Usually made to avoid the hassle of passwords.
              Well the price you pay for that convenience is the choice to make your data public.

              • by ultranova (717540)

                If a policeman walking down the road sees you shooting a gun at your girlfriend through the window with the open blinds he will damn sure rush in and intervene. "Plain sight" is not covered by the 4th ammendment and broadcast data is much closer to "plain sight" than thermal imagery from INSIDE the house.

                Actually, no. The difference here is between a policeman walking down the road happens to see something and a policeman sets up equipment to spy on you. That is the difference, not the part of electromagne

                • And remember kids, almost anything that blocks visible light blocks IR too.
                • >>If a policeman walking down the road sees you shooting a gun at your girlfriend through the window with the open blinds he will damn sure rush in and intervene. "Plain sight" is not covered by the 4th ammendment and broadcast data is much closer to "plain sight" than thermal imagery from INSIDE the house.

                  >Actually, no. The difference here is between a policeman walking down the road happens to see something and a policeman sets up equipment to spy on you. That is the difference, not the part of e

                  • Well I was showing you limits to your 4th amendment -either way the US constitution restricts the government, you've made it abundantly clear that it does not apparently restrict corporations.

                    Depends on the extent to which it has been "incorporated" via the 14th Amendment. Which has to be decided by the Supremes. If this ever gets as far as the Supremes, they can declare what was done by Google an unconstitutional infringement of the 4th Amendment. Or not. Until then, no-one will know for sure....

                    Note

                    • >Note that the entire Bill of Rights once only limited the Federal government, not the State governments. Then the States passed the Fourteenth Amendment, which extended the Bill of Rights (and every other Constitutional provision) to everyone in the USA, against anyone who'd care to try to infringe upon them.

                      Yet nobody seems to have a problem with employers censoring their employees speech ? There's your exception right there. Clearly the U.S. constitution is NOT held to apply to corporations.

              • by mpe (36238)
                If a policeman walking down the road sees you shooting a gun at your girlfriend through the window with the open blinds he will damn sure rush in and intervene. "Plain sight" is not covered by the 4th ammendment

                But the police officer can't see through a blind or other than visible light.

                and broadcast data is much closer to "plain sight" than thermal imagery from INSIDE the house.

                If anything thermal imagery is rather closer to "plain sight" since it is possible to wear a machine which will turn what is
          • Re:Private Info? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by silentcoder (1241496) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @07:34AM (#32988096) Homepage

            >The average consumer does not think of wireless networking as "broadcast" information

            The average consumer also doesn't think drunk driving is such a big deal - we still hold them accountable when they kill somebody.

            Failing to recognize the potential consequences of your actions does not absolve you from being responsible for them.

            • by DJRumpy (1345787)

              You realize you just won the States arguments against Google right?

              What? You can't see heat & neither can I (in the context of this discussion of course). You need a device to translate that heat into the visible spectrum.

            • Failing to recognize the potential consequences of your actions does not absolve you from being responsible for them.

              Exactly so. I wasn't trying to suggest that consumers could not be accountable for this.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            Therein lies the problem. The average consumer does not think of wireless networking as "broadcast" information.

            I'm sick and tired of hearing this bullshit excuse. If someone doesn't think that running someone down with their car will kill them because they watched too many episodes of Itchy and Scratchy, is that a potential defense for vehicular homicide? What about the Streisand effect? Would it be legitimate to prevent taking pictures of other people's property from the air if they didn't know that photons were reflecting off of it at all times and making it visible? Stop making excuses for the technological inept

            • I hate to agree with drinkypoo... ever... but I concur. Every time somebody drags out the 'but they didn't know what they were doing!' excuse it makes me want to deck somebody. If you have a car and wear the brakes down to nothing to the point where they don't work, you can't then say 'I didn't know that's how brakes worked!' and get out of jail free when you roll over somebody.

              Stupidity is not a defense, ignorance is not an excuse. If you don't know how to operate something, don't operate it, because the
            • Stop making excuses for the technological ineptitude of the masses of asses.

              It's not an excuse. It's a fact: people don't understand this stuff. I agree with you about this. I don't think Google did anything wrong; instead of suing Google, the states should spend their money on educating people about how to secure their home networks. DUH!

          • yes there is. there's that little box you can tick and a password field you can fill in which makes everything you broadcast private. LIKE MAGIC!!!

          • by c0lo (1497653)

            Therein lies the problem. The average consumer does not think of wireless networking as "broadcast" information. They still consider it private. This is partially a lack of understand of the technology, and partially because it does not occur to most people that anyone else might try to snoop.

            I don't see how the lack of understanding would make the broadcasted information less public.
            Does a blind person have an excuse on "I cannot see myself" if, getting naked in public places, would be considered offensive?
            Could a deaf person ask anyone else "Don't hear what I'm saying, because I myself cannot hear"?

            • I don't see how the lack of understanding would make the broadcasted information less public. Does a blind person have an excuse on "I cannot see myself" if, getting naked in public places, would be considered offensive? Could a deaf person ask anyone else "Don't hear what I'm saying, because I myself cannot hear"?

              Well, those are different questions. Most blind people know that other people can see them, even though they themselves cannot see. And the blind person would not sue a sighted person for looki

          • by L0rdJedi (65690)

            Therein lies the problem. The average consumer does not think of wireless networking as "broadcast" information. They still consider it private. This is partially a lack of understand of the technology, and partially because it does not occur to most people that anyone else might try to snoop.

            The hell they don't. I can't tell you the number of people that I have had to tell to "get your own" because they were trying to use their neighbors wireless access because they're to cheap to get their own Internet. This is exactly why I lock my down. They don't care that it's not their service. It's "free" and they want to use it.

            I've even talked to people that don't want to bother locking it down because they think their Windows passwords will keep them secure. The guy was running XP with shares ava

        • Re:Private Info? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Zironic (1112127) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @06:54AM (#32987914)

          What certain geeks like you seem to fail to understand is that normal people don't give a flying fuck about how it works on a technical level.

          What a normal reasonable person expects from an open wi-fi is that their neighbors might borrow their internet. What they don't expect is that a random asswank will record all their data. While it's very easy to do it does require you to go out of your way to do it which means you're a dick.

          In the same way when you sunbathe in your backyard or fuck your girlfriend in the window you probably don't mind if your neighbors see you, but you have every right to be pissed if someone decides to take photographs.

          I for one don't want to live in a world where any information that leaves the 4 walls of my house is public.

          • Re:Private Info? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by HungryHobo (1314109) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @08:05AM (#32988256)

            oh it can leave your 4 walls but you have to make at least a symbolic gesture that you wish it to be private.

            Encrypt with WEP rather than broadcast it openly.
            Seal it in an envelope rather than writing it on a postcard.
            Speak it over a private telephone line rather than using a loudspeaker.

            Go for a shit in the bathroom and you can expect privacy.
            Go for a shit in the middle of the public street and you can expect none. Even if you're deranged or stupid and convinced that you're invisible.

            pull the curtain closed in the changing room if you want privacy rather than screaming that passers-by are violating your privacy when you don't.

            if people don't know unsecured actually means "unsecured" then they need to learn.it's simple. the world does not need to bend over backwards for them.

          • In the same way when you sunbathe in your backyard or fuck your girlfriend in the window you probably don't mind if your neighbors see you, but you have every right to be pissed if someone decides to take photographs.

            It's pretty much this in a nutshell. What so many other slashdotters appear to misunderstand is that privacy isn't a dichotomy of "have it" or "don't have it", but instead there are (or were) various shades of privacy. Except more and more, the various shades are being pushed more & more into a dichotomy, and the disappearance of those semi-private events is the source of much of the hate.

            Like your example, it's one thing if your neighbors see you--what is that, perhaps 5-10 people, most of whom you k

        • Re:Private Info? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Muad'Dave (255648) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @09:10AM (#32988768) Homepage

          I disagree that wifi data meets the definition of a broadcast; rather, it is a non-public communication transmitted without encryption. The only definitions of 'broadcast' I could find at the FCC website were related to specific broadcast services (AM, FM, TV, etc)

          47CFR73 Sec. 73.14 AM broadcast definitions.
          A broadcast station licensed for the dissemination of radio communications intended to be received by the public and operated on a channel in the AM broadcast band.

          Also there are rules in the Amateur service (Part 97) that forbid broadcast transmissions intended for the public.

          The crux of the biscuit is that broadcasts are, by definition, intended for public receipt. Wifi data is not intended for public receipt and the service under which Wifi equipment operates is not licensed as a broadcast service (it is unlicensed, in fact).

          Remember back in the day when HBO, etc were transmitted in-the-clear over C band satellites? I could tune in and watch it with no trouble, but the law said even though it was transmitted in-the-clear you could not legally watch it unless you were a subscriber.

          Did you know that the old-school pagers used in-the-clear transmissions? I could've easily transcribed every single pager transmission in the greater Richmond area (as well as ones intended for those with 'satellite' pagers that worked nationwide). It would not have been legal, however.

          How about the old 49 MHz cordless phones/baby monitors, analog cell phones, etc? They were all in the clear, and special federal legislation was enacted to prevent eavesdropping - they forced scanner manufacturers to block the analog cell frequencies [gpo.gov].

          What google did by collecting anything other that the SSID was equivalent to transcribing private pager data and making it publicly available - that certainly would be illegal.

          References:
          Communications Act of 1934, as Amended [google.com] (pdf)

          http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs2-wire.htm [privacyrights.org]

          • by Muad'Dave (255648)

            PS - the Comm Act of '34 contains this definition:

            "BROADCASTING.--The term ''broadcasting'' means the dissemination of radio
            communications intended to be received by the public, directly or by the intermediary of relay
            stations."

            • >BROADCASTING

              Yes a legal definition from 1934 is perfectly adequate to consider this scenario through. If anything I would say that the very definition you cite supports MY view more than yours. Because it's broadcast that MAKES it intended for the public. The law was written to control who is ALLOWED to broadcast on licensed spectrums. On an unlicensed spectrum EVERYBODY is allowed to broadcast, that doesn't mean what you do there ISN'T broadcasting.
              The meaning of that word is well defined in engineerin

      • I assume you think videocameras should be outlawed then?
        someone can just walk down the street with one and record not just images but snippets of the conversations they pass, owners of video cameras should be prosecuted like the eavesdroppers they are!!!

      • by GooberToo (74388)

        I think this is private. I think that even if I do something in public, there is no reason that it should be legal to record it and use it to cross reference it.

        The law doesn't even work that way. Besides, your interpretation implies almost everything is private unless you say otherwise. That would mean, for example, simply taking a picture of a birthday party at a park is illegal unless you get waivers from everyone. That's simply not reasonable.

      • Just because it's a private network doesn't mean the MAC address is private no more than the street address for private property is private.

      • by naasking (94116)

        How does anything you just said apply to recording MAC addresses?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gnasher719 (869701)

      Seriously, who thinks this info is private? We're talking about payload data from unsecured wifi. For that matter we're talking about payload fragments.

      On a recent discussion about the data that the iPhone collects and sends to Apple, many people commented that Apple is worse than Google. Apple collects and sends the following data:

      1. MAC address

      That's it. Apple doesn't collect the SSID which could likely be used to identify you. And Apple most definitely doesn't even look at any payload. Why would Google have any need to look at payload data? They have no legitimate reason whatsoever. I cannot see any technical reason why looking at any payload d

      • by profplump (309017)

        First, Google only gets passive captures, so they have to take what they can get and then parse it. They *necessarily* have to look at whole packets to figure out what's going on. They could then, after examining the packets, throw them out and keep only the data they're using in location services, but they had to capture it all in the first place. It seems plausible to me that they just didn't think it was important, or though it was worth saving in case they came up with a new way to process it later to i

      • I think there is a difference though. Apple collected information - without fully informing users they would be doing so. Information that otherwise would have been quite hard to obtain especially en-mass. (a dhcp server would know it - but you'd still need to know exactly when the phone connected).
        Google collected information that was being publicly broadcast by people who CHOSE not to make it private. It's that simple, if you choose not to secure your wifi, you've chosen to make any information travelling

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WarJolt (990309)

      Even when connected to secured wifi networks your MAC can be sniffed. MACs are not secure. Try using airodump sometime. ;-)

    • Re:Private Info? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AMindLost (967567) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @07:05AM (#32987952) Homepage
      So you think your DNA isn't private? You leave it everywhere you go so it's in the public domain. Is it OK for a company to collect it, store it and profile it for its own purposes?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Spad (470073)

        Public != Public Domain.

        As long as their purposes are legal, then they're not doing anything wrong. They might be acting unethically, you might not *like* them doing it, but that's another issue entirely; this whole Google debacle is about legality.

      • >So you think your DNA isn't private? You leave it everywhere you go so it's in the public domain. Is it OK for a company to collect it, store it and profile it for its own purposes?

        Considering the amount of DNA that /. readers have distributed into socks and keyboards, I think the readership is actively campaigning to make DNA automatically public domain.

    • The question isn't "who thinks this info is private?"... ..the question is "who thinks data shouldn't be private?"...

      As is usually the case, the law only begins stepping in AFTER the baby has been poured out with the bath water...

      Yes, the data is currently available, because people didn't lock the access points. But - outside of the IT geek/nerd community - how many people do you think have Internet connections and aren't aware how to properly secure their network?

      And - even if they can secure them - there

      • "properly secure their network?"

        There's the rub.
        I don't expect people to "properly" secure their network.
        I don't expect people to seal their letters inside a safe before posting.
        But I do expect a letter rather than a postcard, symbolic security.

        what I expect is symbolic security at the very least, you know, the kind which almost all routers use by default which you have to specifically disable(normally with warnings).

        "What about the 17 year old that proudly blogged how he screwed a neighbours kid out of som

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      This isn't about privacy. This is about 37 states in desperate budget crises who will latch on to anything that might get them a cash settlement.
  • by Manip (656104) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @04:34AM (#32987282)

    First off they're scanning public information. This is unencrypted, and broadcast across the airwaves for anyone with a WiFi device to pick up. Secondly they are using this for their location service. By recording the location of the hotspot with the identity they can roughly guess someone's location without the need for GPS. If people want privacy then they should turn off their WiFi or at the very least stop broadcasting the name of the network openly.

    As far as Washington goes - just yet another example of idiots in power with no grasp of I.T. and without the wisdom to consult with someone who does.

  • Overblown? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by profplump (309017) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @04:41AM (#32987318)

    Am I the only one who thinks this is overblown? For all the actually invasive data-mining that happens on a daily basis on the web and in real life, are we really concerned that Google captures a few seconds of broadcast, unencrypted network traffic? Is this a more important issue than the online and physical database breaches we see all time from other companies (and governments) -- many of those go entirely unnoticed, and even big stories from that category only get a day or two of news coverage, but people have been whining about this Google thing for weeks.

    Even if you assume that Google really wanted to capture this data for some nefarious purpose, exactly what are people worried about? It's not at all clear to me that capturing a random 3 seconds of traffic from someone's open WiFi provides Google with any particularly useful or terribly private information. Ignoring the fact that anyone in the neighborhood could be doing continuous captures of the same AP, or that half of these WiFi networks are connected to broadcast-based uplinks (like cable modems), I just don't understand why this -- even if the intent is evil -- ranks high among the other privacy concerns in modern life.

    • Exactly. There are serious data breaches every week somewhere in the U.S. and yet suddenly it's Crucifixion Time when Google records a snippet of information that you were already sending out publicly. Just surfing the Internet or searching on Google will give them far more information about you than that little cache of WiFi packets.

      And what about Skyhook [skyhookwireless.com]? Is it okay when they catalog all the WiFi stations in the U.S.? You think they didn't record any info? Oh, but wait, our fancy schmartphones use it

  • by gravos (912628) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @04:42AM (#32987320) Homepage
    EXTRA! Politicians from 37 states find easy way to make it look like they are doing something useful while ignoring war in Iraq, war on drugs, out of control budgets, ...
    • Wish I had mod points because yeah, that's it exactly.

    • I log ago gave up any hope that politicians give a damn about the greater good or actual harm to the public.

      How many times have you heard politicians on the news shouting about gun control/gun regulations/drugs/etc
      How many times have you heard politicians on the news shouting about stairwell safety and regulations on handrails?

      now go away and look up the figures for all of the above.

      if politicians cared even a little about "the greater good" or the real dangers out there rather than whatever is loud and sex

  • Since when do governments or attorneys general side with the general public rather than with Big Business?

    Doesn't Google have a little lobby organisation to prevent this kind of embarrassment? All other large companies would have been able to bribe a few people and lobby against a country-wide investigation. This is bad publicity for Google! How could that happen? Why aren't those attorneys general encouraged to stop writing letters and asking questions after their 1st letter?

  • Hmm. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    As I see it, your MAC and SSID are never private. If PBS has ever taught me anything, it's that the data on public access points such as the one I just connected to were brought to me by neighbors such as you.

    -Posted from next door.
  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @04:57AM (#32987390) Homepage

    Someone needs to make an Android app that does the exact same thing these vans did, and publish all the captured data online, free and open. Maybe then the govt. could take their eyes off Google for long enough to realize the real problem here isn't Google -- it's the silly politicians who think recording SSIDs is malicious (the same politicians who'd start training a multi-million-man army for the coming "cyber war" apocalypse if they could), and the stupid networking (hardware or ISP) companies who don't default to secure settings, and don't educate their customers how to maintain their security.

  • by davmoo (63521) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @05:31AM (#32987532)

    We should look at the positive side of this. Since the states have so little to do now that they can waste time and money on bullshit like this, that must mean that the economy is fixed, everyone has jobs, there is no poverty or hunger, and crime and violence is a thing of the past.

  • Anyone want to bet that they collected this info to try to set up a more accurate geolocation service than anyone else?
  • ... to people listening to someone shouting across the street? Would the government charge these people for listening in to a "private" conversation of 2 people were shouting at each other loud enough to be heard?

    I sometimes wonder if theres an IQ test politicians have to take and anyone who makes it into 3 digits can't become one.

    • >I sometimes wonder if theres an IQ test politicians have to take and anyone who makes it into 3 digits can't become one.

      Close, it's more like everybody who doesn't make it into 2 digits are destined to be one.

    • by selven (1556643)

      I sometimes wonder if theres an IQ test politicians have to take and anyone who makes it into 3 digits can't become one.

      George Bush has an IQ of 125.

      Given that the average IQ is (by definition) 100, that should say something about the people who vote these politicians in.

  • So if a person had never bothered to put up any curtains and failed to install doors in their house and Google snapped a photo of the street in which you can see inside the house should Google be tried for invasion of privacy? Can such a person who leaves his or her house in that state have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Do people that can't be bothered to put up electronic versions of curtains and doors for their wireless networks have a reasonable expectation of privacy?

    If you throw out incriminatin

  • "Google said it mistakenly picked up 600 gigabytes of data from unsecured networks over the last three years."

    Six.Hundred.GIGS?!?

    If all Google was logging was the SSID and MAC addresses from unsecured WAPs as flat ASCII, worldwide, I'd wager that data would amount to a small fraction of that amount.

    Which begs the question, just what *did* they log? (It also makes me reeeeally glad I heavily secured my WAP years ago).

    • by Spad (470073)

      I think we've been through this every time the story has come up; Google were passively scanning all available wireless networks and in doing so were capturing data that was being broadcast on unsecured networks. The real issue here isn't that they did that (you kind of have to if you're going to catalog wireless access points) but that they didn't have a process in place to automatically discard all the additional data once they'd established the SSID, MAC, Channel, Signal Strength, Location, etc that they

  • Can we get a list of their names, brand their foreheads with "I don't know nothin about no internets!" and then never let them vote on anything relating to technology ever again.
  • Has the FCC permitted the states to assist it in enforcing or expanding federal communications laws? Didn't congress give exclusive authority for communications to the FCC with a few exceptions for the military?
  • There is no reasonable expectation of privacy when you broadcast information from your home in an unsecured form.

    If you secure the information you can be considered to have taken reasonable steps to ensure some level of privacy, but that doesn't mean you are guaranteed privacy - you are still broadcasting the information, albeit encrypted.

    If you want to keep your MAC addresses (or any other information) private, don't broadcast them.

    Now, if anyone finds evidence that Google is harvesting MAC addresses and c

  • by ka9dgx (72702) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @11:58AM (#32991120) Homepage Journal

    Here's what I sent to Indiana's AG...

    TO:
    Office of the Indiana Attorney General
    Indiana Government Center South
    302 W. Washington St., 5th Floor
    Indianapolis, IN 46204
    Phone: 317.232.6201
    Fax: 317.232.7979

    E-mail: Constituent@atg.in.gov

    FROM: Mike Warot

    Hi
        I'm Mike Warot, from Hammond. I'm a network administrator working in Chicago.

    I've recently learned that 37 states are joining in an investigation of Google's collection of WiFi data, as typified in this story from the LA Times

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/07/google-street-view.html [latimes.com]

    The issue at hand seems to be quite simple. They were trying to make a list of open (unencrypted) WiFi access points as a supplement to GPS to help in navigation. Because the software used to collect this data (Kismet) defaults to collecting entire packets instead of just the names of the access points, there is now an uproar that "passwords were stolen" and other Bull Shit. It was a simple technical oversight, not an evil plot.

    Please DO NOT WASTE MY TAX DOLLARS on this wild goose chase. I'm sure you have plenty of other more important work to do.

    Thanks for your time and attention.
     

"Someone's been mean to you! Tell me who it is, so I can punch him tastefully." -- Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse

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