Google | Sorry, we’ve been evil

16 05 2010

The largest and most powerful corporation on Earth with the world-famous motto “Don’t Be Evil” has been forced to apologise for ‘hijacking’ WiFi waves then proceeding to hoover up all data within the catchment area indiscriminately.  All with the aid of the very mobile fleet of Google-endorsed Street View Cars.  Those motors with the special cameras taking photos of your valuables.

Google apologises for collecting personal web data

Google has been forced to apologise after admitting it has been wrongly spying on people’s internet use for more than three years.

By Roya Nikkhah, Telegraph.  Published: 9:45AM BST 15 May 2010

The internet giant’s Street View cars, which were launched last year to take photographs for its Google Maps service, have mistakenly collected information sent over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.

Information gathered by the cars’ antennae could include parts of an email, text or photograph or even the website someone may be viewing.

About 600 gigabytes of data was taken off Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries. Google said it plans to delete all the information as soon as it gains clearance from government authorities.

The admission will raise more privacy worries about the company, which issued a public apology on Friday.

Google said that it only recently discovered the problem in response to an inquiry from German regulators, who began to examine why Google was using the cars to collect Wi-Fi data at all.

A month ago, Google said that it was only collecting the name and location of local Wi-Fi networks, information, it argued, that was publicly available and which would help improve its location services.

The company said that as soon as it became aware of the problem, it grounded its Street View cars from collecting Wi-Fi information and segregated the data on its network.

Google is now asking for a third party to review the software that caused the problem and examine precisely what data has been gathered.

In a blog post, Alan Eustace, Google’s senior vice president of engineering and research, wrote: “Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do, and in this case we fell short.

“The engineering team at Google works hard to earn your trust – and we are acutely aware that we failed badly here.”

Google said the problem dated back to 2006 when “an engineer working on an experimental Wi-Fi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast Wi-Fi data”.

That code was included in the software the Street View cars. “Quite simply, it was a mistake”, said Mr Eustace.

He added: “This incident highlights just how publicly accessible, open, non-password protected Wi-Fi networks are today.”

Dan Kaminsky, the director of penetration testing for security firm Ioactive, said that there was no intent by Google.

He said: “This information was leaking out and they picked it up. If you are going to broadcast your email on an open Wi-Fi, don’t be surprised if someone picks it up.”

John Simpson, from Consumer Watchdog, an American consumer group, said: “The problem is [Google] have a bunch of engineers who push the envelope and gather as much information as they can and don’t think about the ramifications of that.”

The launch of Street View cars last year prompted widespread protest, with critics claiming that the information provided on Google Maps would invade the privacy of home owners and help burglars.

The Information Commissioner’s Office cleared Street View of any breach of the Data Protection Act earlier this year.

With Corporations like Google, who needs Dr Evil.


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YouTube | Google’s new sidekick

3 04 2010

The new interface on YouTube reminds me of my Nation’s Labour Government, useless and unwanted by many who ‘use’ it, loved by those who profit from it.

My main gripes were the soggy replacement of the star ratings with the simplified thumbs up or down icons along with the new commenting system which is just too darn fidley.

But all that pales into insignificance when actual confirmation is given that ALL messages are scanned.

I received the following message from a fellow YouTuber articulating the faults of the new layout.  Notice how it has an official boxed warning attached about the message.

How else would they know what the message contained without scanning for certain words?

Of course, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear…  but the possibilities are endless with such tools in the hands of the controllers.

Worth remembering that the owners of YouTube are Google Inc, whose motto is “Don’t be Evil”.  So it was only a matter of time before the Corporates began their ‘magic’ on YouTube.  They are the ultimate data-harvesters known to man and video-sharing is just another grouping of customers to be profiled.

Any company that needs to remind itself not to be evil deserves a wide berth.





NuGov and Google

26 02 2010

Google received £381,056 from the Business Department to give prominence to keywords that promoted the NuGov ‘message‘.  The idea of Lord Mangledbum the sadistic pervert and Google the information-siphoning pimp having ‘business’ should have us all wondering what else has been shared.

From TheyWorkForYou

(SOURCE):

Nick Hurd (Shadow Minister (Charities, Social Enterprise and Volunteering), Shadow Minister; Ruislip – Northwood, Conservative)

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with reference to the answer of 10 November 2009, Official Report, column 311W, on Google adword online: advertising keywords, what keywords were paid for; and at what cost.

Patrick McFadden (Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; Wolverhampton South East, Labour)

BIS has spent, via the Central Office for Information (COI), a total of £381,056.89 on Google keywords in 2009/10 to date for the following marketing campaigns:

Graduate Talent Pool

£53,732.26

Vulnerable Workers and Agency Workers

£29,591.83

National Minimum Wage

£40,301.80

Business Link

£252,397.90

i-Awards

£539.30

Science: So What? So Everything

£1,179.04

Employment Agency Standards

£3,314.16

Total

£381,056.29

This covers a combination of 4,400 keywords related to these campaigns. We have not provided the full list and the amounts paid for individual keywords as the release of this information could prejudice the commercial interests of our suppliers.

Read that last bit carefully.  They have the technology to promote their message, so logically, they could suppress any opposing ones.





Corporate King Google

15 02 2010

Looks like Google’s Buzz is experiencing its first come down within days of going live.  And once again it is the privacy issue the Mega-Corp is having problems with.  Personally, I’ve never trusted Google due to the fact that they once had the slogan “Don’t be evil”…  And anything or person that needs to proclaim that seriously has some issues.

Google Buzz redesigned after privacy complaints

Telegraph, 15 Feb 2010

Todd Jackson, product manager for Google Buzz, has announced that the company will disable the feature which gave users a ready-made circle of friends based on their most frequent email and chat contacts in Gmail.

The Google feature was heavily criticised because it revealed to the world who each user emailed the most. Many also did not want contacts whom they emailed regularly for work purposes to be included in their online social circle.

Many users attacked the company for violating their privacy.

Mr Jackson said: “We quickly realised that we didn’t get everything quite right.

“We’re very sorry for the concern we’ve caused and have been working hard ever since to improve things based on your feedback.”

Buzz will now only suggest who users may like to include as their friends.

The site was also criticised because users of Gmail were automatically joined to it, but now the company has announced it will put a tab in the email facility to make it easier to turn off.

Buzz will also no longer automatically connect Buzz to Picasa photo albums and Google Reader items, the company said.

The changes, which will take effect over the next few days, were the latest Google had made to Buzz since it launched the product inside millions of Gmail accounts less than a week ago.

A minor blip for sure yet it highlights once more the lack of privacy available on the net.  Data gathering has become a huge business with online companies such as confused.com and gocompare.com where the user will fill out the boxes to compare prices for them which the company then compiles the data, then it is ready to be sold to other companies.  In essence, they make no money from you or the company whose product you bought, instead turning the information you ‘gave’ willingly into a product in its own right.

So on the grander scale with Google, instead of a questionnaire, they place a ‘cookie’ on your machine that then tracks every movement on the net.  This is then compiled and analyzed and then used by themselves for their Adsense venture along with being packaged and sold on to third-party groups who then sell it on again.  The reason for the thrid-party groups is even Google aren’t that stupid to advertise that they sell your data as more people would take precautions, thus denting their profitability.

“Don’t be evil”…  keep telling yourself that.