Google Street View Raises More Privacy Concerns

Google’s Street View has always been a lightning rod of sorts for privacy advocates. After all, if you find yourself looking out your window one day and a Google-mobile or trike or whatever they use these days to get information, shows up and starts taking pictures of your street and your home it can be a little creepy. It kind of gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “It’s a Google world and we’re just allowed to play in it”.

Nowhere has the concern for privacy been greater than in Europe. In particular, Germany has taken issue with many of Google’s information gathering activities. Well, now that there have been the “discovery” of what else Google is gathering the German government is sounding off again.

The Register reports

Google’s roving Street View spycam may blur your face, but it’s got your number. The Street View service is under fire in Germany for scanning private WLAN networks, and recording users’ unique Mac (Media Access Control) addresses, as the car trundles along.

Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar says he’s “horrified” by the discovery.

“I am appalled… I call upon Google to delete previously unlawfully collected personal data on the wireless network immediately and stop the rides for Street View,” according to German broadcaster ARD.

Of course, the Register’s description of the Google data gathering device as a spycam certainly adds to the drama but, hey, gotta sell papers, right? If I could read German I bet Der Spiegel I bet there would be some interesting information but wait! Google can translate the German newspapers online report into English for me. See Google’s not all bad, right? While I figured the paper to be “hot under the collar” about Google’s activities it actually pointed the finger at how Germany itself has been doing this for years. Google’s ‘translation’ reads

Great excitement at age-old technique: data protection accuse Google, cover with Street View car illegally to the position of radio networks. German researchers and companies do it for years – so far unchallenged.

Not the best English but who’s counting. At any rate, it is interesting to see just how willing people are to point their finger at Google for alleged breaches of privacy yet they will ignore the three other fingers pointing back at themselves. Ahh, the price of success, right Google?