OK, where are the apologists?
"You left your handbag hanging in my reach on your shopping trolley so I took some of your money - your fault for leaving it in my reach"
No, seriously, that the kind of "defence" of Google's actions I have been hearing. I am absolutely astonished that even after suspicions are proved of rather evil "do not eveil" activities you still get the apologists come out in force. Unless they're maybe paid by Google? Shareholders? New Labour voters?
It's becoming quite a list now.
- The China affair: "we're now against censorship because we're losing market share, and we can't keep a secret in one single building, despite Apple managing this all across multiple parts vendors and assembly factories in China. Obviously,China is bad. Focus on human rights, don't mention the market share nbecause we want to sell some shares, no, I told you not to look at our SEC filings".
- All about privacy: "we don't look at your information, robots do. Yes, we write those robots, but we have perfect control over our software" (keep that in mind for a moment)
- Tagging (also FaceBook): "you might not want to give us your picture, but others will. Isn't that a nice, fat hole in your precious Data Protection? Good scam, no?"
- Streetview: "we know you put fences up for privacy, so we'll just up our cameras, oh, and we'll allow people to zoom in on your windows". "Oh, sure, we'll promise anything to make our marketing vehicle stay, just don't expect us to actually DO it, be serious, this is about money".
And now this. "It was all an accident that a rogue engineer (baaad engineer, bad, bad!) could inject code into both the mobile part of the Streetview collection as well as ensure it had the whole back end sized and ready to receive that data, all without us knowing this. Is this enough of an excuse not to make it the criminal offense it in all across the Globe? Did I mention it's a bad, BAAAD engineer who did this?"
Google did a fantastic job on search tech, and it has come up with some other good stuff. If they could just realise they are good enough not to need this sort of crap life would be a lot easier for them. But hey, Microsoft couldn't control itself either, and look what is happening to them now..
Quite simply, what they did was criminal, full stop. There is no wiggling on this one, it's irrelevant how (plus, with their resources they should have had better control in place anyway, so even that isn't an excuse). You do the crime, you do the time (or pay the dime).
Executive jail time would be so educational, but is alas far too easy to avoid..
Now here is a fun question: if they publicly allege to have so little control over their software process, where does that leave the security of all that information you have stored in Google Apps? Make your choice: either Google knows exactly what it did and is thus guilty, or it is crap at managing software, which immediately raises questions about how safe any information is that is hosted in Google Apps. As far as I can see it, it's merely a choice of foot - the trigger will be pulled in any event..