Sunday, June 06, 2010

Privacy? Really?

I'm sure we've all heard about Google being caught red handed collecting data while basically war driving during their Street View excursions. If not - Google uses some pretty high tech camera cars to capture the 360 degree camera shots incorporated in their Street View application. It just so happens the cars were also equipped with sniffers that looked for open and unsecure wireless connections or hot spots. These sniffers were also able to capture some personal data and record it in relation to the geographic location. So much for "Do No Harm." More like "How Can We Make More Money Without Ethics To Bother Us."

But, we've all known this for some time. There is nothing free on the internet. Recognizing Google as a company attempting to "own" the internet should make us as consumers at least attempt to be aware of their motives and act accordingly. Also, castigating Facebook for using the data we willingly fork over strikes me as either excessively naive or hypocritical. I'm not saying that Google is excused from their behavior - just that we need to be aware that they are not in business to do us any favors.

That said, the reaction from European governments to Google's fishing expeditions has been, well, regulatory. They're peeved. Not happy with Google at all. So, what is the solution for Germany, France and Spain?
Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, told The Financial Times in an interview in London that within the next two days, the company would share the data with regulators in Germany, Spain and France. The data is thought to include fragments of personal information like e-mail and bank account numbers.
Uhmmm, okay.

So privacy concerns were the motivating force behind the respective governments' outrage? If so, why do they want the data? Were they really into the idea of protecting what their citizens would probably want concealed, perhaps they would be deleting the data.

This strikes me more as a situation where the respective governments are more upset because someone dared to tread on what they consider their fiefdom. And, since someone has already collected valuable data, why not use it - privacy concerns be damned?

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