Woops, Google's Street View cars collected email passwords and more "sensitive data"

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I’ve been known to give Facebook a hard time over its lax security and disregard for user privacy but, frankly, Google’s doing a pretty good job at keeping up.

Not to be outdone by the social networking site, the search giant has already got into hot water for the overzealous nature by which it collected WiFi data when driving around towns in 30 countries creating its Google Maps Street View.

As we reported at the time, Street View cars had been “mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks” since 2006, although we didn’t see it as a major privacy issue, stating that it wasn’t likely that Google grabbed enough data about many individuals to make it a real concern. Google, of course, said pretty much the same thing.

Now it seems that they (and we) were wrong.

The BBC is reporting that the French data protection agency CNIL, having begun looking into the exact data that Google’s Street View cars captured, has found that the “sensitive data” included email passwords and “data that are normally covered by… banking and medical privacy rules”.

That is, potentially, pretty sensitive stuff, although there is no evidence that said data has been used maliciously.

The French authorities are still investigating and hope to come to a decision by September as to whether to prosecute for breach of privacy. Other options include handing down a warning or issuing a fine.

Google says it’s co-operating with the French authorities and others around the world, and that ultimately it wants to delete the data and move on.

“We have reached out to the data protection authorities in the relevant countries, and are working with them to answer any questions they have,” a Google spokesperson is quoted by the BBC.

“Our ultimate objective is to delete the data consistent with our legal obligations and in consultation with the appropriate authorities.”

  • http://www.zco.com/ Custom Software Development

    Google always discovered the new technology which helpful for the user.

    • jenna

      Uh-oh. I am sure someone will make another issue out of this, like that one we have before, featuring google maps having a kid shooting another kid

      .. which turns out to be just a toy gun. But still, some agency are suing Google for this.

      • niks

        Well indeed I do see a trend in this. This data collection may have gotten in the public by coincidence. Who knows what else they are doing. For a company whos primary business is collecting and correlating information to people, there will always be a very thin line to the realm of ‘privacy’.

        Consider this:
        GMail: Google is allowed to search the content of your emails (read the licence if you dont believe)
        WiFi: apparently they have been ‘unintentionally’ collecting some email passwords.
        Free Android OS on mobile phones and PCs: you tell me…

  • Wello

    Why would you send sensitive data over a non-secured network anyways? If you do then your data deserves to be stolen.

    • Steve O'Hear

      That’s a fair point regarding open networks but you still don’t expect a responsible company to systematically drive a car around capturing that data.

      Although, of course, there is nothing stopping a criminal from doing so.

      • Al

        “there is nothing stopping a criminal from doing so.”

        And that’s exactly what happened in this case.

      • Justin

        Um Al how is GOogle a criminal? Do not just say inflammatory things… That just makes you a troll

      • head in the sand

        Whaaaaaat? Stealing is considered criminals now??
        *head explodes*

      • Tri8g

        Stealing like “I forgot to put my earplugs back in and overheard some stuff. Therefore I stole that stuff that was being communicated openly between two places.”

    • Harry

      Wello you troll – people don’t deserve to be the victims of data crime because they don’t know any better – often these are peoples mums & dads that just bought a box at PC world you cretin.

      • Chris

        nice. name calling. that makes trolls go away.

        successful troll is successful.

      • http://www.wikipedia.com/ also he's not a troll

        He’s really not a troll. He’s right. The fact of the matter is, it’s not people’s mums who are doing this. It’s people’s banks not properly encrypting these passwords.

    • http://www.jakaya.com John

      wello, thats ridiculous. its like saying ‘if you walk down the street without a gun, you deserve to be mugged’

      people have a right to leave things unsecured, but people don’t have a right to steal things because their unsecured

      • Tri8g

        It’s called negligence, and often enough people don’t learn until someone points it out. I don’t think there’s no blame for those stealing, but I don’t like when people ignore a victim suffering from stupidity.

        If you point out the technical negligence and stupidity of a government, they arrest you, though.

        As for your analogy, open wifi networks don’t have law enforcement patrols like streets do. It’s more akin to deciding to take the path in the “wrong part of town” every single time you commute anywhere.

      • http://www.wikipedia.com/ not a complete luddite

        You seem to forget that this is a case where someone’s bank has practiced extreme negligence on the behalf of the victim.

        It doesn’t matter that Google was collecting this data, so were hundreds of other computers across the Internet.

        You do realize that the Internet consists of many computers forwarding messages for each other in CLEAR TEXT, don’t you?

      • Ross

        If I go shouting my bank details in the street and someone hears, is that stealing?

        If I spray my hose at you and you get wet, are you stealing my water?

        seriously, you guys have a strange concept of theft.

    • Michael

      I love Google but this is absurd…The only thing I could understand is if they made a survey to see how many networks were unsecure, if passwords were often sent over (but not storing them…unless it’s to check the most common passwords) to then educate the population to 1) secure the networks, 2) be more original.

      As much as one can like Google, it’s good to keep the big companies in check.

    • Michael

      I love Google but this is absurd…The only thing I could understand is if they made a survey to see how many networks were unsecure, if passwords were often sent over (but not storing them…unless it’s to check the most common passwords) to then educate the population to 1) secure the networks, 2) be more original.

      As much as one can like Google, it’s good to keep the big companies in check.

  • Jon

    So what if random email addresses found in random payload data?! this whole situation is blown out of proportion.

    • craig

      Did you read the article?

    • http://www.jakaya.com John


    • Jordan

      Jon is right. Everyone making noise about this situation has no idea what goes on technically. They are politicians ( apparently also journalists who I’ve counted on in the past to cut through bullshit ) and they only think of computers as a box they push buttons on. Past that they don’t care how it works.

      They had a packet sniffer engaged in order to sample local wifi traffic and collect SSID’s. Anyone who has used one of these tools knows that it basically collects everything being broadcast into cache and filters from there.

      The data they’re investigating is this temporary cache of random wifi packets taken from random moments in time. The audacity to claim they intended to collect and use this data is beyond comprehension.

      Sloppy Journalism. I expect this of the daily mail, but techcrunch? I rely on you people to give me no bullshit news. Please don’t continue this trend of FUDalism (get it.. its like journalism and fud and feudalism all mashed together!.. .. okay i wont do that again sorry. )

      • Tri8g

        Don’t forget how much sniffing it takes to gather relevant and useful data.

        “What’d we decipher today?”
        “A few hundred pieces of cookies, fragments of pictures…”
        “No, I mean we know they were supposed to be pictures, but we can’t figure out what they’re supposed to me.”
        “Are they skin tone anywhere?”
        “You’re trying to stretch this, aren’t you? Anyway, then we got some search result pages and random HTML fragments… the only thing that’s any sort of complete is this blog about… ‘lolcats.'”

      • http://www.jakaya.com John

        bro, i took ur phone, it was on the table and not in ur hand

      • Jordan

        You don’t understand what’s going on here at all. ™

  • Philip

    Tbh I agree with the above comments. Open network? Where’s the problem? Etc.
    What would be interesting, though, is to see people’s reactions (including my own) if an organisation such as, Ooh I dunno, Facebook, for example, had done something like this?

    • Jordan

      Facebook is doing this. They’re talking about adding localization soon but avoided showing it at f8. Why do you think? They’re watching the shit storm that google is braving right now. I’m sure they’ve had more than enough of the rabble rousing. My call is they’re holding off because their plan was to mainly use geo info of wifi networks to ping where you are.

      I don’t see anything inherently wrong with that.

  • Troy

    Stop “Investigating”, start PROSECUTING.

    Google knew better, I am sure their wi-fi ‘snooping’ is an illegal wire-tap under the laws of (almost) all 30 countries.

    The remarks on here on shockingly pro-Google and reveal a total lack of respect for law or privacy on the part of the commenters – ‘if you’re sending data over a non-secured network “your data deserves to be stolen”‘ (as though data could be “deserving” of anything). So willfully lawless and ignorant that it boggles the mind, much like the leadership of Google, apparently. Almost as shocking are the no-account regulators who, instead of doing their jobs and prosecuting these illegal activities, just keep on “investigating”. Truth be told, these little crooks with badges are probably patting Google on the back for giving them all this data they otherwise couldn’t legally get — I wonder how many hapless citizens will be harrassed or prosecuted based on the data Google provides to these government goons?

    • http://blog.glcomputing.com.au/ Mike Lazarus

      Troy… how is it illegal to drive past and hear two people yelling a conversation to each other?

      • craig

        Overhearing a yelled conversation is inadvertant. Deliberately driving around with a vehicle that is supposedly equipped to take photos yet is also surrepitiously and DELIBERATELY gathering data is quite different.

        Wake up and smell the coffee.

        Google IS evil.

      • http://blog.glcomputing.com.au/ Mike Lazarus

        Ahhh… so, in your world, everyone must state to Big Brother the exact purpose for everything they do and not deviate from that, even in error?

        So, if you are waiting for a bus and happen to overhear my conversation without telling me in advance that you may be listening, you are evil?

        Although, maybe not the same… Google did say they are gathering data for geolocation and for things like searches for free WiFi points.

      • Tri8g

        I think you missed the part where they stated it WASN’T deliberate, but instead test code in their mapping software that wasn’t supposed to go live.

        Then again, we can’t take a stance on what we “think” because it’s “innocent until proven guilty.” So until some memos pop-up saying “Yeah, we’re so going to steal people’s information all over the world,” we can’t go “those bastards!”

        In addition to that, there’s also the intent.

      • Jordan

        I love how all of these people are arguing about rights and freedoms and such, yet convicting Google based on an inquiry from a governing organization.


      • Chris

        I think the divide can be very quickly summed up as existing between people who know how sniffing works and people who don’t.

        If you know anything about the technology involved, you know why it was done this way, and why it’s not a huge deal.

        Should they have kept the cache after ascertaining the SSIDs? Absolutely not.

        Did they make use of this data? No.

        Is it a gaffe? Yup.

        Is it criminal? I would say no.

        Are you rather dumb for broadcasting plain text passwords across open networks? You bettcha.

        Maybe we should sue the folks operating the open networks(you know some of them had to be from public businesses, etc.)! They were accessories…

        Use some common sense, people; how long are we going to stifle technology because we’re uninformed and overly litigious?

      • jayemvee

        You’re right it’s not illegal to pass someone and overhear their conversation. However it crosses the line into being creepy if you intend to record those conversations without their permission.

      • craig

        Yep, Mike Lazarus doesn’t grasp the difference between an overheard conversation and deliberately using technology to record WiFi data.

        Geo-location? I don’t think so. That requires a GPS not a Wi-Fi snooper.

      • http://blog.glcomputing.com.au/ Mike Lazarus

        So, it’s only ok for you to over hear something as long as you forget it?

        Or is it a question of how you intend to use that data… which, in this case, hasn’t been stated.

        I can only hope that Craig stays off the internet in protest and goes back to wearing his tin-foil hat to protect his thoughts being read from Mars.

      • Sense

        Geo-location uses WiFi hotspots to aid in pinpointing locations. WiFi hotspots don’t have a tendancy to move a lot, so their use in location based services (to be used along side GPS) helps pinpoint locations faster and more acurately than GPS alone. They do this because you can pick up WiFi hotspots easier than you can pick up a GPS signal in many areas, especially in the city. These are mapped by gathering information that the wireless router openly and willingly broadcasts for ANY device to catch, such as SSID, MAC address, Open ports, and, in some cases, active clients. The technology is designed to work together, and the data collected was done so from an open/unencrypted line.

        Yes, over hearing a yelled conversation is one thing and probably not the best comparision so lets try a different one. This is like having a conversation over an open CB channel and getting angry because someone overheard you giving your bank account number to someone on the other end of the line. If you’re willing to pass that information over an open channel you need to realize there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. Did google gather this information, yes, and they admitted so and turned over all of the info to the proper authorities. Seems like the right thing to do to me. They’re not hiding it, denying it, running behind their lawyers or trying to play the media.

        I get that not everyone understands how to encrypt thier networks, but in this day and age all you really need to do is read the giant pamlet (complete with pictures and all) to set up basic encryption, so their is really no excuse. The information is there, support lines are listed for help, the information is all over the internet. There is no one to blame but the person using the open connection. Not trying to troll, just my 2 cents. Calling Google evil is just a bit overboard.

      • Jordan

        The CB radio analogy is the best way to put it for people who grew up without digital encryption.

        Bottom line \/
        There is absolutely no expectation of privacy if you do not encrypt your wireless network.

      • Jimbo Jones

        @Mike Lazarus

        That’s not the same thing at all – you can’t turn off your hearing.

        A more proper analogy is purposely putting in a sound recorder when you drive around the conversation, and actually flipping the switch on to record.

        So no, your analogy doesn’t work…at all.

      • http://www.jakaya.com John

        lazarus, ur missing the point. these transactions were not ‘meant’ to be public and recorded, if they ‘can’ be, doesn’t mean they ‘should’ be.

        the analogy does work, for example, to say that the door was open gave me the right to rob the house is bullshit. We still have the right to leave our doors open, and walk freely, to say otherwise is quite misguided

      • Jordan

        If your house is unlocked, though you’re constantly leaving things you want to keep to yourself on the curb and generally filling all your personal stuff into the surrounding neighbors yard, then the comparison is more accurate.

        A wireless signal is known to travel outside your house and into your neighbors and onto the street. To expect to keep that to yourself is expecting your neighbor to leave all that junk you just put in their yard alone. Its completely unrealistic.

        Electronic data transmission has to be encrypted for there to be any expectation of privacy. I don’t know why people would consider anything else. If you’re expecting privacy, don’t be transparent. Logic. There shouldn’t be any laws touching this subject at all.

      • http://www.jakaya.com John

        ur saying that data is pouring onto everyones yard, like some kind of physical burden? i cant continue talking with u

      • Jordan

        Wireless airwaves pour out of your yard of course. This is unstoppable. Of course they’re not like some physical burden. Since you were comparing the digital information to physical contents within your home, I took that analogy a step further in order to articulate the inanity of it. Obviously you think your original idea of the unlocked front door is not worth speaking of once it’s boiled down to a fair comparison of transmission and physical worlds.

        If someone does happen to steal credit card numbers that are being sent unencrypted, that person is of course are still at fault, regardless if the victim publicly broadcast that data. The bank may give you a hard time when it comes to reversals given they discovered you weren’t encrypting it, but the criminal would still be guilty in the end.

        Happening by chance to capture a packet into temporary storage that contains this data is not immoral nor illegal. Prove to me that Google stores and indexes all this data at the googleplex, or any other of their data centers, and then uses it, then I’ll start to raise alarms also.

        I’ve decided that accidental is a bad word for google to use. People who are not technically inclined are unable to understand how this accident could happen. Circumstantial is what they should be saying.

        They could not record SSID’s without capturing other packets. Suggest to me a manner in which you can pick only the SSID packets, without listening to any of the other packets on the air. Also suggest a manner in which a computer can detect that it is an SSID packet, before it has saved it to a location in memory. Impossible. You have to temporarily store the information to process it. These caches are what are being sifted through.

      • Tri8g

        I think you have a misunderstanding of how public unencrypted data broadcasts are, John.

        The offender is wrong, and so is the idiot victim. STOP DEFENDING IDIOCY. There are bad people in the world and they want your money.

        His analogy is fine in all you’re doing with a sniffer is using a digital net to catch the info with. The information is still passing through your neighbor’s airspace.

        Here’s a scenario: I trust my neighbors. They’re ok people and they might be borrowing my connection. What I don’t know is that my one neighbor has a relative that installs everything he can find. Free screensaver! Free wallpaper pack! “Your computer is infect, click here!” And now that dummy is on my network with his malware-infested laptop! The malware on that laptop could be sophisticated enough for sniffing, or it may be a worm. Now, if I and the rest of my neighbors didn’t know any better, we’ll buy new computers or spend money to get them “repaired” if he does indeed have a worm, or we’ll be on the phone with the bank all night, etc.

        (In reality, my network is MAC locked and my router located in the basement so as to limit my horizontal broadcast range – signal doesn’t even get 6 feet from my house)

        There’s more to open wifi than Google passively collecting.

    • Justin

      Hapless citizens? You sound stupid. In fact google did these people a favor by exposing what can happen if you transmit sensitive info unsecured. They should be thanking not prosecuting. If/when someone else would have done this it would have been much worse.

      • craig

        And burglars do people a favour by reminding people that they should be paranoid and brick up their windows.

      • Bill

        Craig, your analogy falls short. Burglars steal intentionally and tangible property that the owner does not get back.

        Electronic information is different. There is no value to a persons email password UNLESS you USE it to do something malicious which Google is not doing.

        So you are comparing stealing tangible goods to use (Burglar) with unintentional electronic data gathering which was not intended to be nor will be used.

        You should probably stop reading TC and go back to studying for that 11th grade history test you have next week.

  • Anthony Stewart

    I don’t understand under what justification they can be collecting this data. Surely they are supposed to be just collecting photographic data for their streetmaps product. What right and reason do they have picking up all this other data.

    I have always said if people are too stupid to lock down their wifi networks then they shouldn’t be allowed to have one. However, too many people still think it’s OK to steal other peoples bandwidth. However if your bandwidth is leaking onto my property and it is unlocked then quite frankly it shouldn’t be against the law to use it.

    • Steve O'Hear

      I think it was part of geolocation stuff but I know Google says it was accidental. Wasn’t meant to be far reaching.

      • Jordan

        They were sampling SSID of networks at the time of the picture being taken. This way if you’re device is picking up one of these SSID’s.. which can be set not to broadcast and is clearly documented for anyone to be able to do upon initial configuration… then it knows you’re near that location they recorded.

        In order to sample that data though, you need to collect all the packets, and identify which ones are SSID’s. The rest are usually discarded like most temporary information would be. This temporary cache is the data that Google handed over in a raw format willingly and without delay, and has people up in arms.

        Also in news, when you go to a website you’re making a copy of all the content you’re looking at on your hard drive automatically!! Does this make everyone on the internet a copyright infringer?

        Justified in the name of serving the public with location based services on a wide array of existing handhelds.

      • http://www.jakaya.com John

        this is such a foolish conversation. everyone has a right to privacy, whether on ‘the internet’ or not. get with it, the future us will laugh at these insane comments

      • Jordan

        You’re a fool to say that publicly available information is private.

        You absolutely do have a right to privacy. This is why when you put up encrypted data communication, the government can not come and tell you to open it up. With rights come responsibility.

        If you wish to exercise your right to privacy then it is your responsibility to make sure you are keeping your affairs private. Of course I understand the history behind the privacy laws and why they’re so important, and why companies have to abide by certain regulations when it comes to data collection. None of that applies when you’re not taking measures to keep your data private.

        The right to use publicly accessible information is just as much a right as the right to have privacy is. You can’t have one or the other.

      • Tri8g

        You need to get with the times. Privacy is dead mostly because everyone is so willing to give it up without a second thought.

        Do you have a Facebook? If you do, then you are no privacy champion. I don’t know more than a handful of people personally who seem to have even the slightest idea of the implications of what they post on Facebook are.

        Most people don’t seem to get that privacy settings are a null point when you’ve put your private data on a server connected to the Internet. If you want privacy, then learn to be private. The Internet isn’t a private place.

  • http://ryangravener.com RYan Gravener

    I would place blame on the wifi router manufacturer for allowing an unsecured option.

  • http://blog.glcomputing.com.au/ Mike Lazarus

    Wouldn’t that data be sent via SSL, even if the WiFi connection wasn’t secured?

    If so, are they saying Google can decrypt 256bit encryption on the fly? That’s a much scarier proposition, altogether.

    But, if not, on an open WiFi connection or not, why would any bank or email server support unencrypted passwords across the internet?

    • Alex

      I’m also curious about this point…

    • Saurabh

      My..my…my…how can we talk so lame…!!??
      Who said that Google can decrypt 256 Bit encryption..?? But what about the data transmission between the box(laptop, desktop..etc.) and the WiFi router? Is that SSL encrypted too my dear friend?

      • /b

        “Who said that Google can decrypt 256 Bit encryption..?? But what about the data transmission between the box(laptop, desktop..etc.) and the WiFi router? Is that SSL encrypted too my dear friend?”

        Yes. SSL encryption would be done in the browser on the client machine, before it even hit the IP layer.

        apparently we’re talking about data that was not encrypted.

      • Jordan

        More examples of uneducated fear mongering.

        These stories don’t belong on tech crunch. I thought this was the home of no bullshit.

  • http://twitter.com/jackofallTrolls monsterofNone

    shortest joke in the world:

    French Resistance.

    • http://www.jakaya.com John

      2nd shortest joke in the world:
      invasion as freedom

  • http://www.shanebrady.com Shane Brady

    I don’t think any of this is new. The French CNIL is looking through the data and seeing bits of passwords and other data, but I bet not enough to be a security privacy breach. It would be like if I saw “shane@h” in a stream of data.

    Frankly, while what Google did was clearly a mistake, I think the CNIL has a bigger problem on its hands if it’s concern is protecting user’s data, and that’s the all the insecure wifi hotspots and non SSL encoded banking and medical information being passed around.

  • patrick

    Wow I knew the readers on this site were pro-Google, but holy crap guys. They stole email passwords for YEARS!! In 30 countries!! You all give Facebook such a big kick in the butt for giving your info to advertisers when you purposefully give it to them to start with. But when you Loving savior Google secretly takes what is probably thousands of email passwords you sit there and blame the citizens? I hope your the ones they got info from.

    • Hannah

      Were they really stealing it? Nothing indicates that they took illegal measures to obtain the data. It was all there for the taking, they just collected it on a large scale. If it’s technically illegal to drive around collecting stuff that is right there for the taking, then it’s perfectly reasonable for the authorities in these countries to be looking into it. But since there’s no indication that Google did anything malicious, prosecuting them would be a waste of time and resources. If people are outraged by this, they should direct their energy to securing their own networks and teaching others how to do so.

      • Jordan

        What the CNIL found was what appeared to be an email address in one series of packets, and the next few that matched the same id may have had a string of characters that one could assume is a password.

        Without the proper analysis and reconstruction of data, it’s useless. These few random encounters; Where people happened to be sending emails and passwords over completely unencrypted connections (not even SSL at the browser level) just as Google’s vehicle was driving through the neighborhood collecting packets in order to identify SSID’s; do not suggest Google was stealing passwords for years.

    • Tri8g

      I blame the people for supporting Facebook and social networking in general. Social networking is a privacy fallacy.

      Also, there’s the whole “intent” thing…

      • Jordan

        Yes facebook is driving people to divulge all their inner most desires onto their servers. How does this translate to unencrypted wifi though?

        I blame stupidity. Simple human stupidity.

  • http://cars.mustangcar.net/?p=1680 Woops, Google's Street View cars collected email passwords and …

    […] post by Steve O’Hear and software by Elliott […]

  • MG

    Oh look, that’s downtown Toronto.

    On topic: Google screwed up big time. Google apologized. Google’s helping with the investigations. Google should be fined. Google should be made to run a “wifi security education” program to teach homeowners. Data should be destroyed ASAP. This would be a big deal if Google wasn’t being supportive.

  • http://mdm-adph.blogspot.com mdmadph

    …and that’s why you don’t transmit anything secret (like passwords) on an unencrypted wireless network.

    We can argue about Google’s legality in all this, sure, but the real argument is what businesses were transmitting your private data over unsecured wireless networks? THEY should be held accountable first.

  • http://www.streetviewfunny.com/ Google Street View

    hmmm…passwords? What is Google going to do with those?

  • http://www.timparkin.co.uk Tim parkin

    In more news.. the world’s Garbage collection companies in criminal litigation for stealing personal information.

    Garbage collection companies respond by saying “Well it’s not our fault if people leave their bank statements in the trash?”

    Further evidence shows that some personal information is being ‘distributed’ to third parties.

    In a further response “Well ok, some paper blew out of our truck” but we know there must be some insider trading, or something… surely there has to be an illegal reason somewhere!!

    But this obvious cover up operation won’t work – SUE THE BIN MEN OF THE WORLD!!!

    p.s. Breaking news finds our urban animals also infiltrating these reserves of personal information.

    • craig

      Big difference: your “bin men” are SUPPOSED to be collecting the trash.

      And you can bet they don’t bother to rummage throught it.

      From minute one, Google has existed to collect information about Internet users. We are only now beginning to see just how far they will go. Rest assured you will see far more stories like this.

  • http://www.techcrunchchina.com/archives/1086 哇,Google街景车收集电子邮箱密码和更多“敏感信息”TechCrunch中文站 | TechCrunch中文站

    […] English version by Steve O’Hear […]

  • http://the-reviewer.com TheReviewer

    I’ll file this under “Yet another reason to not run an open WIFI network”

  • Trex
    • robrob

      Lawyers who are suing google and stand to make a tonne of money if they win claim google is evil.

      I am totally shocked. This is my totally shocked face.

  • WAM

    This is completely blown out of proportion. Let’s look at the facts.

    Google was simply listening to what was being broadcast “in the clear.” To put it more plainly, if you are standing in a room full of people you cannot have and do not have any reasonable belief of privacy when you stand on a chair and scream across the room to another person. This really is no different, the networks they obtained data from were unsecured and therefore the users of those networks had no reasonable expectation of privacy. They were simply screaming across the room …

    This would be an issue if it was discovered that Google was cracking secured networks to support their project, but this is not the case.

    They did nothing more than listen to what was being said…

    As for the gizmodo post about “Lawyers Claim Google WiFi Sniffing is not an Accident” would anyone really expect any member of the snake oil salesmen … I mean bar association to not take that position? That is what pays for their Porsches and Yachts – in most cases a lawyer’s word is as good as gold … fool’s gold.

  • Big Blue

    Google is in the business of collecting and monetizing people’s data so logically this kind of ‘mistake’ from a mature corporation should be suspect. Investigating it is common sense and if it’s found they were criminal they should be prosecuted.

  • bobics

    Oh no! They better not hack into my Gmail account…

  • cliq


    man can you guys write about google with more rainbows and hearts please?

  • http://www.tech-mag.info Dragos

    It’s obvious that Google collected that data intentionally. I hope they get penalized for this.

    • Tri8g

      How’s your Yahoo account doing?

      • Justin

        Hows your adsense doing?

  • josh

    Q: How is it even possible to have been “accidentally collecting data”?

    A: You “accidentally” built a sniffer, “accidentally” gave it to your streetview contractor. Who in turn, “accidentally” turned it on while taking pictures and “accidentally” gave the data back to you.

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