Week in Review on Google’s Street View
While Google has made nice with China and had its ‘operating license’ renewed, their Street View efforts are getting mixed reactions around the globe. Recently, Google has come under serious pressure from the likes of the EU’s European Commission and countries directly (Germany) about its ‘accidental’ collection of data from unsecured wireless networks while making its rounds. Well, there was some relief from that side of the pond at least as reported by Reuters
Google Inc (GOOG.O), which is at the heart of a controversy over its data collection methods, has decided to resume gathering images in four countries for its Street View mapping service.
After conversations with regulators, the Internet search company will start driving its cars in Ireland, Norway, South Africa and Sweden from next week, it said on its European Public Policy blog.
The cars will no longer collect wi-fi information, but will continue to collect photos and 3D imagery.
For the full report from Google’s side of the desk check out their European Public Policy post here.
But alas, all is not well around the world with Street View. No not at all. Down Under, the Associated Press reports
Google broke Australia’s privacy law when it collected private information from wireless networks, the country’s privacy commissioner said Friday, following an investigation into the Internet giant’s “Street View” mapping service.
At the time, Australia’s Communications Minister Stephen Conroy dubbed it the “single greatest breach in the history of privacy.”
On Friday, Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis said her investigation was complete and she had determined Google breached the nation’s Privacy Act.
“Collecting personal information in these circumstances is a very serious matter,” Curtis said in a statement. “Australians should reasonably expect that private communications remain private.”
Apparently Google need not worry too much on this one since it looks like it’s a dingo with all bark and no bite. For whatever reason, Australians put acts in place that don’t allow for them to punish the accused because the government initiated the inquiry (Huh? Is it the heat there?). As a result, Google has said it would police itself and issued an apology to Australia on its blog titled “We’re Sorry” . I laughed out loud when I saw it. It’s just funny that their ‘punishment’ is a blog post. That means I get punished every day!
The last bit of ‘news’ comes from Consumer Watchdog as reported by the BBC. In a totally “what if” scenario they are making claims that Google could have retrieved delicate information from US politicians’ houses during their Street View drivebys. One house in particular was pointed out.
Consumer Watchdog focused on a number of high profile politicians whose homes appear on Google’s Street View maps.
It found that Congresswoman Jane Harman, who heads the intelligence sub committee for the House’s Homeland Security Committee, has an open home network that could have leaked out vital information that could have been picked up by Street View vehicles.
Ms Harman’s office has not responded to calls for comment on the issue. Consumer Watch said it did not collect any information but did pinpoint where unsecure networks could be found.
First of all, did Consumer Watchdog have a staffer go to these houses and check to see if there was an unsecured wireless connection? Is someone investigating them? Oh I guess their word is good because they’re a ‘watchdog’.
C’mon! Is it really Google’s fault that we have politicians who are asleep at the Internet wheel? I am actually glad that Consumer Watchdog was desperate enough to connect these dots because it exposes how stupid our government is. It doesn’t even have the sense to make sure that someone on such an important committee isn’t ‘locked down’ with their Internet connections. Thanks indirectly to Google maybe we are a little safer, assuming this congresswoman figures out how to secure a WiFi network.
So there is your week in Street View review. Now it’s safe to say you can go about your weekend in peace.