Google Creep Factor Increases Again, Street View Cars Spying on Emails & Texts Not Accidental

6 May

dailytech.com

                                  Image from vancouversun.com

Google’s brilliant Street View has been appreciated as an innovative resource, as well as invasive foe, and it’s looking like it’s “accidental” disregard for the Fourth Amendment may not have been so accidental.

The project was supposed to be for the betterment of mankind, or something along those lines.  But Google’s altruism has been called into question when it was revealed that it was using its wired Street View vehicles as warwagons to troll unsecured wireles connection connections.  Further, the Google cars were discovered to be intercepting unsecured email and SMS traffic, data mining peoples’ private conversations.

Google cast this hidden capability as a “bug” in the Street View code, created by a misguided engineer.  But according to the FCC while Google appears to have broken no laws in spying on people on unsecured lines, emails between the engineer in charge of the program and two other employees — including a senior manager — indicate that the program was not a rogue effort. It was in fact on the radar of at least some members of Google’s senior staff.

The FCC did dock Google $25K — essentially a slap on the wrist for the multi-billion dollar tech firm — for impeding its investigation.  But Google claims it has nothing to hide and is publishing the emails described by the FCC, with the engineers and manager’s names redacted.

Google now admits that five of its engineers were involved in the effort, but it denies knowingly playing unwelcome house guest on home internet connections across North America and Europe.

The internet firm categorizes the snooping as “minimal” and says that the program was not even big enough to be reviewed by the company’s legal staff.  The program was launched in Oct. 2006 by “Engineer Doe” and was pre-approved by at least one manager who devoted resources to the project.

Read full article:  FCC Knowingly Used Street View Cars to Snoop On Emails, Texts

 

Related story:  Google Street View Car Catches People in the Act

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