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back to article Google KNEW Street View cars were slurping Wi-Fi

Google knew its Street View cars were slurping personal data from private Wi-Fi routers for three years before the story broke in April 2010. When the revelations were made, Google said its map service's cars were merely collecting SSIDs and MAC addresses. The following month, it said network data had been captured, but this was …

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Devil

A further course title

For this shower of deceitful b*stards - self-loathing!

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Mushroom

Re: A further course title

Google are still...and will continue to be...LYING SCUM.

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Re: A further course title

Teach them a lesson, never search for anything again, even car keys. And don't leave the barn door open when you want to protect horseshit.

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FAIL

Oh dear, apologies forthcoming?

Not from Google - although they should - but from the two Google fanbois that downvoted this.

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Re: Oh dear, apologies forthcoming?

As opposed to the other three who downvoted it because the commenter was whining about the first two who downvoted it?

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Holmes

Re: Oh dear, apologies forthcoming?

Don't worry, dear, it's just the usual fanbois expressing their sadness in the only way they know how that the Gods of the Chocolate Factory have let them down yet again. Bless.

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Anonymous Coward

Single rogue element....

That idea always had the same level of credibility as the "single voicemail hacker" explanation for the intrusions by the British press.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Single rogue element....

That defense works once.

But no one really believes it.

We've heard excuses like this before, and we never bought it.

The sad fact though is that the FCC didn't think they break wire tap laws.

Even if the owner/end user of the wi-fi network doesn't have any encryption turned on, there is an expectation of privacy on the network.

We've seen cases like this plus laws were further enhanced to make war-driving a criminal offense.

There is no way that a 'single engineer' had the authority to put this package in to production for 2 years on such a highly visible project. Streetview has been facing public scrutiny and privacy issues around the globe especially with their cameras and lidar units so high above the car.

Navteq's cars, even with Lidar don't have their masts that high.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Single rogue element....

How can you possibly claim to have an expectation of privacy on a network that you explicitly chose to run without encryption? You're broadcasting in the clear in a public space.

You may have perfectly legitimate reasons for not using encryption, but you don't have any grounds for complaint if your broadcasts are "overheard".

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Re: Single rogue element....

"Overhearing" implies a passive action - you just happened to be passing by and you "overheard" a conversation. This is true of human hearing. It's unavoidable unless you stick your fingers in your ears.

But in this case, "overhearing" is an active process akin to eavesdropping - you're using a piece of equipment and actively searching out signals. The idea that it's accidental is about as valid as the idea that if you leave your doors unlocked, anyone who walks into your home has done so because you "invited" them to by not locking your doors.

Too often now we hear the same mantra: no-one should expect privacy. It seems we also shouldn't expect integrity, honesty and accountability.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Single rogue element....

@AC,

You had a 900 MHz phone that had an analog connection between the handset and base station.

There was no encryption.

Yet there was an expectation of privacy and it was deemed illegal to listen in and record conversations.

The fact that the average individual, not as technically as versed as your average commentard, doesn't know how to set up their wi-fi router and how to set up passwords. The cable company or phone company that sets up these people's wireless usually doesn't put encryption on. Those freetard that hang out at Starbucks for free wi-fi don't encrypt their connections. Yet War Driving is illegal. That is, the active act of knowingly snooping on unencrypted traffic is illegal, post TJ Maxx days which is when Google did their global sniff.

Of course that's US law. German law, much stricter.

Google got off? You can thank their lobbyists.

They broke the law, even if you don't understand it, the damage was done.

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Anyone surprised?

Anyone at all? Right, didn't think so. Back to work.

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FAIL

$25,000 fine eh?

That'll teach 'em good

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Devil

This

This is one of many reasons I will never use a Google product again. Android doubly so. Do no evil, my arse.

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Happy

Re: This

Good on you!

There's always Apple! They never impinge on anyone's priv... oh wait!

Still, there is Microsoft, THEY never imp.... oh wait!

Look on the bright side, at least when Google do it, it's mostly for free =)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This

Odds-on this 'moral crusader' is making such claims about how he refuses to use products from 'immoral' companies while downloading torrented video on his PC.

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Re: This

What you don't use phones or anybody's products? Almost all companies have done 'evil' in the past, the bigger they are the more likely to happen.

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Anonymous Coward

"Do no evil, my arse."

Good advice for anyone's arse.

(I'd give it five minutes before going in there if I were you)

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Re: This

The likes of Apple and Microsoft are what I would term "Honest Bastards". They're not hypocritical enough to run around shouting "Don't be evil" while engaging in practices that would have Mr Burns shaking his head in combined disgust and admiration.

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Re: This

The sad thing is that Apple and Microsoft are not exceptions. Every multi-billion dollar corporation I've worked for in the last 16 years has posted so-called mission statements or principles of practice prominently in the workplace, and deliberately and calculatedly violated every single one of them every single day.

An example: "We do not expect you to work more than eight hours in one day". One of my former colleagues went on vacation to Mexico with his family. His supervisor insisted that he take a laptop with him, specifically configured by IT to have a VPN, and every day of his holiday he was expected to phone in and do at least two hours of work. This was not an isolated incident. It happened in all departments at all levels and was considered "normal", despite the public profession to the contrary.

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Devil

Rogue Engineer

Ah yes, the rogue engineer. By night he roams the halls of the Googleplex, inserting bugs into Google Maps and preying on the leftover free food. By day he effortlessly blends in to the population of normal engineers (admittedly, a small population), ready to strike again...

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Alert

Re: Rogue Engineer

Downvote? Rogue Engineer - is that you? ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rogue Engineer

Damn!

I've been rumbled.

Yours faithfully

Rogue Engineer

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rogue Engineer

That's "Engineer Doe" to you! =P

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's "Engineer Doe" to you!

A woman, then?

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Headmaster

Re: Rogue Engineer

I think you'll find its actually spelled, 'D'Oh!'.

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Re: Rogue Engineer

Note that the The Register called him a "rogue engineer" - the phrase didn't come from Google, so it's a bit rich to condemn Google for using the "rogue engineer" excuse. As far as I can tell, Google has not disowned the engineer in question, and hasn't accused him of acting irresponsibly

The repeated misconstruing of Brin's quote is just as bad - he didn't simply say that he wished Google wasn't subject to US law, he said that he wished that Google was subject to a jurisdiction that everyone in the world trusted, because quite clearly the US isn't as trusted as they would like to be, but Google doesn't have much choice in the matter at this point - it is subject to US law.

I'm not a fan of Google, but if the Registers best argument against them involves putting words in their mouth and deliberately misconstruing soundbites, I think it's obvious that "Do No Evil" isn't the Registers slogan.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: Rogue Engineer

Re: Al Jones.

No - Google said from the start it was one engineer working alone in a "careless error", see:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/22/google_acknowledges_street_views_wifi_data_contained_emails_urls_passwords/

There's a wealth of related links to look through.

C.

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Re: Rogue Engineer

As I said, Google has never claimed that the engineer in question was "rogue". The implication of the Registers use of the phrase is that Google was trying to throw the engineer in question under the bus, and wash the company's hands of all responsibility.

As the article you link to shows, Google's position, since the beginning when it voluntarily announced that it had been doing this, was that, even though Google didn't think it had broken any laws, it was wrong to to record the unencrypted wifi data, and that while the code was the work of a single engineer, the real failure was that the code review process didn't recognize the significance of this.

The phrase "rogue engineer" means more than someone working on their own. It implies an intent to do wrong. Orlowski is quite deliberately using it to imply that Google has tried to place all the blame on the engineer, when that obviously isn't the case.

(As someone who has worked as a developer and with developers, I know full well that we don't always understand the full implications of our brainwaves, and our managers didn't always spot the pitfalls in what we were proposing to do either. It happens, and doesn't require any roguery!)

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: Rogue Engineer

Re: Al Jones.

"Rogue" has quite a wide definition; it's not as narrow as you imply although I appreciate that you've taken it in its strongest form. Given that Google said it was "mortified", described the traffic capture as an "error", deleted said data pretty quick, and that the whole thing has drawn widespread criticism, it's not an unreasonable word IMHO.

C.

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Coat

Re: Rogue Engineer

I'm just glad he wasn't described as a 'rouge' engineer (a common enough designation on teh interwebs), although if the rogue engineer is a rouge engineer fair play to them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I've been rumbled

That's okay, I've got your back.

Prepare for extraction at 802 11th St.

-Backup Rogue Engineer

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FAIL

Re: Registers slogan. [sic]

Of course it's not!

You need to spend more points on your observation skills. El Reg's slogan is clearly imprinted in the header which appears on every page: "Biting the hand that feeds IT."

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@Al Jones 01-May-12 08:03 GMT

Whether it is a "rogue", "careless", or "lone" engineer, the excuse has always been as believable as a Bond villain from a Sean Connery flick. In organizations as big as Google, nobody works all alone on a project with no oversight and no lawyers involved. Hell, nobody works all alone in a five person code writing sweatshop let alone a place like Google. So it really doesn't matter which adjective you choose.

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Anonymous Coward

Google's magic wand waving

<Goodwins>I'm sure Hitler wished for a similar magic wand</Goodwins>

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google's magic wand waving

I just don't understand all this negativity towards Hitler, he wasn't all that bad, after all he did kill Hitler.

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Re: Google's magic wand waving

Yeah, but he had a lousy sense of timing.

It's all in the timing.

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Anonymous Coward

Of course they knew, they knew because it was a sensible idea to record the data for analysis! The issue is just contentious because idiots like to leave their wifi networks unencrypted. It was broadcast to the public so I don't see what prosecutors are getting excited about.

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Meh

WTF?

So If I accidentally leave something lying around outside my house, you'd be quite happy to nick it because it's in a public place? Well you are a fine upstanding individual aren't you.

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Anonymous Coward

Silent, don't you know you can't defend google here? In particular after Andrew has taken the conclusions he wants from what is and what isn't written by the FCC! It doesn't matter the final conclusion is "not guilty", the anti-google fanbois are rabid and jump at the first chance, and a page view magnet like this won't be missed!

In the mean time, seems like Microsoft has bought Barnes and Noble for 300 000 000 US Dolars - or at least bought their resignation from the fight against the android patent extortion racket. But that doesn't attract so many clicks and page views as Andrew's manipulations of the truth, so it isn't yet on the reg...

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Anon

B'n'N story coming up..

C.

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Re: WTF?

By that comparison, everyone who's wireless got snooped would have lost their connection while it was being snooped.

A better comparison would be you leaving pictures or letters out in the yard and someone taking pictures of them without your consent. Now you both have a copy of the text or image but no theft took place.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

> So If I accidentally leave something lying around outside my house, you'd be quite happy to nick it because it's in a public place?

No, but if you leave your diary lying around outside and open don’t be surprised if somebody reads it. If you leave your windows open and talk loudly don't be surprised if somebody listens. If you leave your Wifi open and unencrypted don’t be to surprised if somebody captures the data.

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Re: Anon

And "Skype/MS reveal remote/local IP" story coming up too?

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Anon

You mean this story? http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/21/skype_bittorrent_stalking/

If not, drop us an email.

C.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

sniffing a copy of freely available data doesn't deny any access to the owner anymore than looking at the bike in your front garden or taking a photo of your house. neither of which I would call stealing

you might not like it, but the fact is you left it in the equivalent of your front garden for anyone to read, if you don't want it read, make it private.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

Sniffing and recording your (unencrypted) WiFi data is akin to someone coming up to the window of your house with a video camera and recording what goes on inside.

Yes, it's public and there for all to see, but would you be happy with that?

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FAIL

Re: WTF?

That's not the same. If you put a sign up in your garden, i might read it if i walked past.

Still don't trust google though!

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Megaphone

Re: WTF?

"No, but if you leave your diary lying around outside and open don’t be surprised if somebody reads it. If you leave your windows open and talk loudly don't be surprised if somebody listens. If you leave your Wifi open and unencrypted don’t be to surprised if somebody captures the data."

But do be surprised if there is 100's of people being paid to do all of the above outside of of every house for 5 mins and recording it all to put in a big database.

*this* is the "expectation of privacy" that most people expect, even of an unencrypted WiFi signal. Yes, the odd person may come by and possibly pick up a little bit of information, even something you'd rather they didn 't know. But when it's a big corp slupring lots of little bits of infomation from all and sundy across international borders, then the game changes.

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Re: WTF?

Sniffing and recording your (unencrypted) WiFi data is akin to someone coming up to the window of your house with a video camera and recording what goes on inside.

No, it's the equivalent of YOU recording what goes on in your house and projecting it on a bloody great screen for all to see. YOU'RE the one transmitting the information.

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