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Google Democrats Government Privacy Your Rights Online

Critics Call For Probe Into Google Government Ties 289

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the begin-the-probing dept.
bonch writes "The National Legal and Policy Center has written to the House Oversight Committee to investigate alleged ties between Google and the Obama administration, specifically with regards to the closure of an FTC probe into Google's Wi-Fi privacy breach, when the company admitted to having collected users' unencrypted information over the course of three years. The NLPC compares Google's relationship with the administration to that of Halliburton and cites the timing of a $30,000-a-head Democratic fundraiser at Google CEO Marissa Meyer's home less than a week before the FTC ended its inquiry, where Obama made a personal appearance, as well as the fact that US deputy chief technology officer Andrew McLaughlin is a former Google employee. The NLPC further alleges that the FTC is tougher on other companies, issuing fines to Twitter and Sears for their privacy violations while letting Google off the hook after the company promised to improve its privacy practices."
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Critics Call For Probe Into Google Government Ties

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  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @01:42PM (#34188050) Homepage Journal

    Is this the same Obama administration that threatened Google with an anti-trust trial and breaking Google up if they landed a search deal with Yahoo, but said they'd allow Microsoft to buy-out Yahoo?

    I wouldn't say the administration has been particularly pro-Google.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:21PM (#34188432) Homepage Journal

      Good points. I'd also counter with a request for a probe into the former administration's ties to Microsoft. Why exactly did the DoJ find that Microsoft had illegally exploited their monopoly position and then let them go with nothing more than an admonition?

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @03:28PM (#34189144) Homepage Journal

      An article [tgdaily.com] I found says

      "Like Halliburton in the previous administration, Google has an exceptionally close relationship with the [Obama White House]," NLPC Chariman Kenneth Boehm wrote in a letter to the House obtained by The Hill.

      Google's relationship with the Obama administration is nothing like Cheney and Halliburton. I mean, has Biden or Obama held large amounts of Google stock like Cheney and Bush held stock in Halliburton?

      I don't remember anybody calling for an investigantion into Cheney and Halliburton during the Bush administration.

      This is more like the Bush ties to Microsoft; the Bush Justice Department pretty much let MS off the hook after Clinton had them by the balls. I didn't see any investigantions into that, either.

      This smells to me like nothing more than dirty politics; kind of like Clinton's forty million dollar blow job.

    • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @03:49PM (#34189314) Homepage Journal

      Look for a lot, lot more calls for the House to investigate the Obama administration. The new majority in the House will not be able to pass any of its program, but it will have the subpoena power to make political theater. With enough smoke, some voters will believe there's fire.

  • what (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @01:44PM (#34188066)

    The NLPC compares Google's relationship with the administration to that of Halliburton

    Exactly how many unnecessary and costly (both in terms of money and lives) wars has Google profited off thus far?

    • by Tekfactory (937086) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:03PM (#34188258) Homepage

      "Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

      So lets count them

      Google vs. Microsoft (in search) - I'm going to f***ing bury Google
      Google vs. Apple (smartphones)
      Google vs. Facebook (social networking/open-ness)
      Google vs. MPAA (YouTube)
      Google vs. ATT/Verizon (FCC Spectrum Auction)
      Google vs. Oracle (Java)
      Google vs. Patent Office (Patent Reform)
      Google vs. Author's Guild (copyright on orphan works)

      The shame of it all is most if not all of those fights are worth fighting and very few others are stepping up to the plate.

      • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:14PM (#34188360)

        The interesting thing about that list is I would enlist on Google's side in every single one of them.

        Google vs. Net neutrality, not so much.

        • by icebraining (1313345) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @03:15PM (#34189020) Homepage

          Schmidt said his belief is that the core of Net neutrality is the idea that network providers shouldn't be able to favor one particular provider of content over another, but he said that networks should be able to prioritize a content medium, say, voice over video.

          "People get confused about Net neutrality," Schmidt said. "I want to make sure that everybody understands what we mean about it. What we mean is that if you have one data type, like video, you don't discriminate against one person's video in favor of another. It's OK to discriminate across different types...There is general agreement with Verizon and Google on this issue. The issues of wireless versus wireline get very messy...and that's really an FCC issue not a Google issue."

          Unless they're lying through their teeth, I'm with Google. QoS is fine.

  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @01:44PM (#34188074) Journal

    So it's big news if Google has ties with the administration but it's just fine for an army of ex-RIAA critters to be nominated to high posts?

    • by bonch (38532)

      Yes, it's big news if Google has ties with the administration, and no, it's not fine for an army of ex-RIAA critters to be nominated to high posts. Next question?

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @01:48PM (#34188118) Journal
    As clear as the rigged elections keeping the Mennonites out of representation in Congress, this Google/Government link is one very deep rabbit hole. In the 80s and 90s, a series of books and movies gave the Twinkie empire a bad wrap. Hostess, Lil' Debbie and a number of other producers put together a syndicate that now only has meetings behind closed doors once a year in a hotel in Germany. The top people all attend.

    Sure, some less powerful people like Barack Obama and various world leaders attend but they're really just an audience for what is decided. Back when "Google" was getting its start, Larry and Sergey were actually installed by the Twinkie Syndicate to archive and modify all movies and books online to reflect Twinkies as a healthy, natural alternative to apples and other competing products. In doing so they restored order and the Twinkies once again began to flow.

    This action, of course, was backed by the Corn Growers Association and the European based "Society for a Stupider, Fatter America" -- the same people responsible for the advent of Christianity in the Americas as well as cream.

    Sure there were some unexpected side effects like GMail and Android ... but these were just a means to an end. Nothing bad can be said of Twinkies in e-mail nor could you text something bad about Twinkies.

    Don't be surprised if you hear news reports of my body found floating in the Potomac ... with a Twinkie obstructing my throat.
  • Let me guess, "The National Legal and Policy Center" is a non-profit organization able to accept donations without needing to reveal the donors, isn't it? Probably with absolutely no political agenda.

  • And ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @01:50PM (#34188128) Homepage Journal
    where the fuck these people were during bush era, and why didnt they call any inquiry to bush administrations BLATANT dealings with haliburton ?
    • by kwerle (39371)

      where the fuck these people were during bush era, and why didnt they call any inquiry to bush administrations BLATANT dealings with haliburton ?

      In office?

    • by erroneus (253617)

      They were participating in those deals. They had no interesting in bringing their own dirty dealings out into the light.

    • Re:And ? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:01PM (#34188238)

      Are you saying that if the US president gets a company off the hook because, if the allegation is correct, they contributed money to him, it is ok as long as the previous president did the same thing? Plenty of people did call attention to Bush admin. dealings with Halliburton. These guys happen to be calling out Obama's dealings with Google.

      • 'plenty of people' here being random citizens around the internet. not any notable organization. leave aside an organization that is entitled national policy center for anything.
    • Congratulations on waking up from your coma (and to the people who modded you up too).

      When you've had a chance to actually catch up on the events of the Bush years, you'll find many people in fact *did* call for such inquiries.

      • by unity100 (970058)
        im asking about notable organizations, corporations, think thanks, 'science' groups. not ordinary citizens.
  • Gaining the House doesn't really help Republicans much at all without having the Senate. And of course anything that they can get through the Senate can still be vetoed by the President. But having the House does allow subpoenaing power, and it's not surprising that already the right leaning NLPC has started preparing for what will certainly be a very long two years of investigations and hearings.
    • by sarhjinian (94086) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:46PM (#34188700)
      You know what bothers me about the Democratic party?

      They could have spent the last two years dragging everyone and anyone who was involved with the Bush administration's more questionable policies (wiretapping, suspending habeus corpus, extraordinary rendition, Halliburton, bogus intelligence and so forth) and probably had a PR field day tearing the ethics of their predecessors apart. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld alone would have been pure gold, and we'd all have been better for having the spotlights turned on the dark, dusty corners of that era.

      But oh no. Either they were idiots and thought that, after eight years of dirty pool, the Republican party's powerbrokers would respond well to bipartisanship (you'd think they'd notice how that was going after six months?), or they were hoping to pull some of the same stuff, in which case they pissed away the moral high ground which would have served them pretty well a few days ago.

      I swear, the Democrats have, certainly since Clinton and possibly since Kennedy, been completely spineless and cripplingly un-unified in the face of a much more disciplined Republican machine. How they managed to piss away the single biggest political advantage of all time in two years is astounding. How they've silenced their conscience (and anyone else on the Left who has one) is even more shameful

      They really are past their sell-by date, and the few who have principles (Kucinich comes to mind) need to put some respectful distance between the rest of the chumps, endorse Nader (or someone like him) and start work on a progressive, thinking version of the Tea Party.
      • by ImprovOmega (744717) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @05:54PM (#34190710)

        The reason they didn't go after the Republicans is the same reason we didn't nuke Russia during the Cold War: mutually assured destruction. Start shining a flashlight into the dark corners of Washington politics and everyone is guilty. 2/3's of the administration would have ended up in jail, impeached, or at least publicly ridiculed over such an attempt. The Dems don't talk about or investigate Halliburton (except to regurgitate the talking heads' arguments ad nauseum) and the Republicans do not go after Democrats ties to labor unions (except as vague campaign promises that never lead to action).

        There's similar quid pro quo deals all through Washington, unspoken but very real. The only thing that they can seem to agree on is the putting down of any upstart who won't play the game. Hence any real, honest politician is either corrupted into the system, or they cooperate to find/manufacture dirt about him and get him booted out of office. It's sickening.

      • by StopKoolaidPoliticsT (1010439) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @06:22PM (#34190944)

        They could have spent the last two years dragging everyone and anyone who was involved with the Bush administration's more questionable policies (wiretapping, suspending habeus corpus, extraordinary rendition, Halliburton, bogus intelligence and so forth) and probably had a PR field day tearing the ethics of their predecessors apart.

        First, a correction, the Democrats gained both houses in 2006, not 2008, so they could have started then... and as a member of the right, I WISH THEY WOULD HAVE. Not because the open partisanship would have cost them votes, because I don't think it would have given how reviled the right had become by 2006, but because we need an open an honest government. However, neither party wants that, they both want a closed, powerful government even if it means they take turns owning the keys.

        Obama continued the Bush wiretaps, even "accidentally" extending them to domestic only calls [zdnet.com] and wants to extend it to the internet [sfgate.com]. Obama hasn't closed Gitmo, he's still practicing extraordinary rendition (which didn't started under GWB), Halliburton is still getting contracts (because they're one of only a handful of companies that does what they do), we still have problems with bad intelligence, etc.

        I don't say that out of partisanship, I say it because Obama and Bush are relatively interchangeable in their practice of foreign policy (oh, sure, there are minor differences, but all the major policies are identical).

        But oh no. Either they were idiots and thought that, after eight years of dirty pool, the Republican party's powerbrokers would respond well to bipartisanship (you'd think they'd notice how that was going after six months?), or they were hoping to pull some of the same stuff, in which case they pissed away the moral high ground which would have served them pretty well a few days ago.

        Again, noting the above, there is one additional reason why they didn't... They were acting like Mark McGwire. Career batting average of .263, but you knew every time he got up to the plate, he was swinging for the fences, looking for that home run, or even better, grand slam. What do I mean?

        Democrats have long been in love with socialized medicine... for the political leadership, it's the one thing they're missing in their dependency pie. Again, what do I mean? Every time a Democrat runs for office and is seriously challenged, what do they run on? "My opponent wants to starve your kids, kick your parents out of the nursing home, take away your childcare, etc." A HUGE portion of the Democrat bases votes Democrat on the fear that their precious entitlements would be taken away. By finally getting socialized medicine in place, it would have forced the working stiffs in the middle that traditionally vote Republican to vote for the party that would keep the handouts going.

        So, they spent most of the first two years swinging for that grand slam. The bases were loaded - people already hated the Republicans, the Democrats occupied the White House and, most importantly, had large majorities in both houses of Congress. They came up to the plate, pointed to left field, swung and missed. The liberal Republicans weren't going to go along. They came up to the plate again and missed. This time the conservative Democrats weren't going to go along either. Then Ball 1, the Senate passed a bill in the middle of the night before Christmas break. Ball 2, the House would work on passing the Senate bill if they could get some fixes. Ball 3, they promise some meaningless stuff on abortion and to fix the bill's most glaring problems down the road, all while giving the crowd the finger. Democrats are standing at a full count. Finally, a homer down the left line! But wait! Now th

  • Collecting data (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @01:56PM (#34188202)

    Google only logged publicly accessible information. How is that a privacy violation? They didn't attempt to crack any encrypted sessions. It seems rather unfair to hold them accountable because of someone else's lax security. Consider the amount of information that other, older data mining companies have on us, what Google did was nothing to be bothered by.

    • by Big Boss (7354)

      That was my thought on the whole thing as well. If you are stupid enough to broadcast your private data over public airwaves without encryption, you deserve what you get.

      It sounds like they really wanted just the MACs for the APs anyway, so they probably ignored everything else, but you need a packet to get the MAC.

      It didn't seem unreasonable to me to log a bunch of data, then just go through it later to grab the MAC and line it up with GPS data.

    • by Hyppy (74366)
      I couldn't agree more. This is no different than standing on the street with a tape recorder. They were driving down public roadways, listening to public radio signals that hit their vehicle. Where's the violation?
      • by GiMP (10923)

        In some states, walking down the street with a tape recorder would be illegal. I know that Pennsylvania is one such state. We have very strict wiretapping laws, arguably the most strict in the union. Google operates in our state and may have to answer to a number of felony charges.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      Google is scary. They keep showing us how powerful collected data can be. It's the public's view in to that world and it's frightening. Some members of that public start thinking about all the projects Google is involved with and all the additional data that goes through their systems and their even more frightened. Then they go to post about that fear on Facebook.

    • by bonch (38532)

      It's not legal to trespass into someone's home just because the door was unlocked. The constant defense of Google's blatant disregard for privacy is pretty shocking considering how vehemently pro-privacy this website used to be a few years ago. It seems privacy today only matters to people if it protects them from RIAA lawsuits.

      • Re:Collecting data (Score:4, Informative)

        by LanMan04 (790429) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:45PM (#34188696)

        It's not legal to trespass into someone's home just because the door was unlocked.

        Which is not at all what Google did. Your wireless router transmits data into public space (the street). Anyone is free to collect that data. Don't like it? Paint your house in RF-blocking paint or don't use wireless!

  • Though both parties are basically the same old same old, you have to hand it to the Dems--they have cooler masters: Hollywood, Google, and Apple.

    Compare R's: US Chamber of Commerce. Bo-ring.

  • Errors in summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Snowblindeye (1085701) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:31PM (#34188550)

    Democratic fundraiser at Google CEO Marissa Meyer's home

    Eric Schmidt might be surprised to find that Google has a new CEO ;)

    I know this is Slashdot, but could we get basic facts right in the summary? Marissa Mayer is a Google VP, not the CEO

    I know, I must be new here...

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:39PM (#34188636) Journal

    The wi-fi situation wasn't a case of Google "getting caught" - it was a case of them noticing the data being collected had more than they had wanted and being up front and open about its disclosure. And in the latter case, it's basically never a good idea to prosecute as it shows good faith, and attacking people for good faith effort only encourages bad faith. Nobody in their right mind wants that!

    We provide technology solutions. Despite all our care and attention otherwise, mistakes get made. And when they do, it's our policy just to say what happened, how we fixed it, and whether or not we think it violates TOS. This simple act creates trust and goodwill because by casually acknowledging that your pants were down in the first place, everybody realizes that they're just happy you pulled them back up and quickly lose interest.

  • That the insane are still running about and blabbering their mouths.

    Let's ignore that every other country has found that google did not wrong and dropped the issue.

    Has the economy made the nutjobs all riled up? Why have they came out of the woodwork over the past 2 years? Previously we would all have wrote off these kinds of people as complete nut-jobs and publicly ridiculed them.... Now they get airtime on Fox News. And we get 1/2 hour talking head discussions....

    Next up on CNN: Is Obama the secret #

  • Since when is Marissa Meyer google's CEO?

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