[LINK] 'creepy' Google

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Tue May 25 12:26:09 AEST 2010


> Conroy slams 'creepy' Google
> Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has lashed out at Google,  
> accusing the internet giant of the single biggest breach of privacy  
> in history.
> In recent weeks Google has been criticised after revelations that  
> its Street View photo cars were also collecting information about  
> people's wireless internet connections.
> Google has also been a critic of the Government's proposed internet  
> filtering plan, but Senator Conroy insists his comments are not  
> payback.
> He says Google considers itself accountable to no-one and he has  
> singled out the internet giant's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, for  
> special criticism.
> "I think that the approach taken by Mr Schmidt is a bit creepy,  
> frankly," Senator Conroy said.
> "When it comes to their attitude to their own censorship, their  
> response is simply, 'trust us'. That is what they actually state on  
> their website: 'Trust us'."
> Several national privacy commissioners have raised concerns over  
> Google's collection of wi-fi data, a practice which has ceased since  
> it was made public.
> Senator Conroy says Google considers itself to be above government.
> "They consider that they are the appropriate people to make the  
> decisions about people's privacy data and that they are perfectly  
> entitled to drive the streets and collect as much private  
> information by photographing over fences and collecting data  
> information," he said.
> "This is probably the single greatest breach in the history of  
> privacy."
> 'Deliberate' breach
> In a post on Google's official blog, Alan Eustace, a senior vice- 
> president at the company, said the information on wi-fi connections  
> was collected by mistake.
> "In 2006 an engineer working on an experimental wi-fi project wrote  
> a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast wi- 
> fi data," the blog reads.
> "A year later, when our mobile team started a project to collect  
> basic wi-fi network data like SSID information and MAC addresses  
> using Google's Street View cars, they included that code in their  
> software - although the project leaders did not want, and had no  
> intention of using, payload data.
> "As soon as we became aware of this problem, we grounded our Street  
> View cars and segregated the data on our network, which we then  
> disconnected to make it inaccessible."
> Following questions from Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher at a budget  
> estimates hearing yesterday, Senator Conroy disputed Google's claim  
> that the privacy breach was inadvertent.
> "Google have admitted to doing this and claim it was a mistake in  
> the software code," he said.
> "It was actually quite deliberate ... the code that the computer  
> program uses was designed to collect this information ... they wrote  
> a piece of code designed to do it."
> Google has been a critic of the minister's proposed internet  
> filtering plan, saying it could affect user speeds and accidentally  
> filter legitimate material.
> The company also says it would give parents a false sense of  
> security, because it would be quite easy to circumvent.
> The internet censorship debate has been a heated one, and others in  
> the estimates hearing suggested that there might be some personal  
> motivation in the minister's comments.
> The attack did not go unnoticed by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.
> "Minister, you just went on a 10-minute tirade of corporate  
> character assassination," Senator Ludlam said.
> Google was yet to return calls from AM for a response.
Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408  M: +61 404072753
mailto:kim at holburn.net  aim://kimholburn
skype://kholburn - PGP Public Key on request

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