[LINK] 'creepy' Google

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Tue May 25 17:08:03 AEST 2010

Swimming against the tide...

Without reigniting the whole flamewar, Google was after all in the wrong.

More importantly, a whole heap of people conflate "the filter" and 
"Senator Conroy". They attack Conroy when he says something not 
associated with the filter - regardless of whether he's right (partly, 
in this case; not the biggest privacy invasion, but a privacy invasion 
nonetheless, and personally I found Google "creepy" long before Conroy 
did), and regardless of whether their responses gain them anything in 
the filtering debate. It's bad tactics. If Conroy's off-topic (so to 
speak), then the best thing to do is ignore him.

If, as has been suggested in other places (many comments underneath news 
stories), Conroy was just playing for distraction, then it *worked* - 
lots of people wasting time defending Google, including EFA and Senator 

People haven't seemed to notice much, but Senator Conroy is *extremely* 
good at flicking up side issues that waste his opponents' time.


Scott Howard wrote:
> So the question has to be asked to Conroy, "what are you going to do about
> it?"
> Google has proven that all you need to carry out the "single biggest breach
> of privacy in history" is a car and a wifi receiver.
> Clearly it falls under the responsibility of the Communications Minister to
> keep us safe from such communications privacy breaches, so how about it
> Conroy - do your job and make us safe!!
> (Seriously, what is this guy smoking?  I don't think anyone expects a
> politician to be completely knowledgeable about every topic in their
> portfolio, but it's clear that Conroy doesn't even have smart people
> advising him - or he's simply not listening - if he can come out with
> complete trash like this)
>   Scott.
> On Mon, May 24, 2010 at 7:26 PM, Kim Holburn <kim at holburn.net> wrote:
>> http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/25/2908415.htm
>>> 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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