Sunday, October 31, 2010

Google and The Italian Job

Internet giant Google found itself in a bit of trouble in Italy this week. Italian prosecutors are apparently investigating the Internet search engine on the basis that the data collected for Google's Street Search feature may have been done so in a manner that violates Italian privacy laws.

Apparently in the process of capturing images for the service, which offers detailed views of various locations around the world, Google inadvertently has also captured fragments of private communications sent out over various Wi-Fi networks. Many of the fragments are just that, fragments, however there were some instances in which names, passwords, whole communications and other sensitive information were also captured.

Google, for their part, have made no effort to deny the allegations, releasing a statement saying they had, "mistakenly collected unencrypted Wi-Fi payload data using our street view cars." The company has vowed to delete the data as soon as possible and to improve its privacy and security practices in the future.

Obviously a private company attempting to encircle the globe with street view photography is touchy business. Google already has an uncomfortable inside knowledge of most people's Internet activities. The fact that they've got people on the ground with cameras attempting to photograph every neighborhood in the world is bound to ruffle some feathers.

Italian authorities are not concerned so much with preventing Google from continuing on with their Street View project but more with mandating the company to warn people in advance when their cars will be in an area. Italian blogger Vittoria Zambardino says that Google should be praised for owning up to the breach adding that, "No one can dispute the beauty and utility of the Street View project."

If Google chooses to remain the World's nosy neighbor, as they undoubtedly will, this is likely not the last instance of this kind we can expect to hear about.

1 comment:

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