Google’s stand about its wi-fi data—it collected erroneously emails and passwords—has been rejected by UK MPs, during a two-hour parliamentary debate on privacy. Google has always maintained that the personal data was retrieved in error because of code being mistakenly included in street view software. This statement itself demonstrates that Google is not ready to accept what it has done.
That is why Conservative MP Robert Halfon has stated, “I find it hard to believe that a company with the creative genius and originality of Google could map the personal wi-fi details, computer passwords and e-mail addresses of millions of people across the world and not know what it was doing.” It is impossible to believe that Google did not know what it was doing, given Google’s leadership in cyber technology. It is pretending innocence to escape the consequences of its wrongdoing.
Robert added, “My own feeling is that this data was of use to Google for commercial purposes and that is why it was done.” Yes, Robert was correct about Google’s intentions. It is everything to do with commercial interests. There could be more than that also, given the accusations from some quarters that the CIA and Google are secretly communicating on intelligence issues, though the facts are yet to be established.
Google has a long history of denying the facts of its evil intentions. Google accepts its market leadership in communication technology but pretends innocence when it is confronted with the facts of its intentions on cyber-dominance through illegal methods.
For example, Google’s PR official told the BBC’s Today programme that code prepared for other experimental use was incorporated by mistake into the street view project, and was intended to map wi-fi hotspots in order to improve Google’s location-based services. The official went on to say the data collected was never used in any other Google project and the company had no intention of doing so.
Fooling People Always
Most importantly, and probably expecting people to be foolish always, Google maintained that it did not know the mistakenly incorporated code would collect personal and sensitive information pertaining to unsecured wireless networks. And we are expected to take Google at its word whatever it tells us about computer code. It seems Google underestimated people’s logical thinking ability when it decided to prepare code to be incorporated into the street view project to collect personal information for commercial use.
Google says it did not know for five years that the personal data was being collected. It did not know the collected personal data was selectively being stored on hard disks. It was all done without knowledge of the top brass at the company. A Privacy International rep said the other day that the code was complex and needed the approval from the top for allocation of funds. But Google shifts the entire responsibility to a single engineer whose name is never revealed by the company. If Google had no evil intentions and it was a mistake, it should have held someone responsible for the damage caused to the privacy interests of the people.
‘Never Used’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Will Not Be Used’
A Google official said, “This data has never been used in any Google product, was never intended to be used by Google and will never be used.” It may be true that Google never used the data in any of its other products. But it cannot be believed that the data would not be used. If that were the case, why was the personal data systematically stored, as claimed by the Privacy International? Google won’t answer these questions directly. It has a policy of never addressing questions and queries publicly, in an attempt to safeguard its evil privacy.
Responding to Robert Halfon’s questions, Google simply said, “The allegations are completely untrue.” That’s it, very simple. You need not explain, argue, contend, or prove. Just deny it and keep calm, no matter how the questions and doubts are justified. As Halfon put it, “The question is whether the company underestimated the reaction of the public, and many governments and the world, once it had been revealed what it had done.”
As Halfon said, it is not actually a question but a truth, a naked truth. Google was caught with its hand in the cookie jar. Graham Cluley, a senior consultant at the security firm Sophos, was surprised that the Google staff did not realize what the street view cars were storing. He was quoted by BBC as saying, “If you were competent then it would be surprising that you wouldn’t know that you were storing far more than you actually needed.”
BBC News presented a case of a woman refugee whose request was not properly looked into by Google. It is understandable why refugees would not want their locations pictured and placed on the internet. Another UK MP revealed that requests to Google to remove the refugee from the map had received no response. Again Google’s answer is simple. It said to the BBC that it was unaware of this particular case. That is not surprising, indeed. Google could not detect that code written by one of its employees was collecting personal data. Then how could it come to know about a single request of a refugee wanting to be removed from the vast amount of data that it collected?
Lessons for Governments and People
Governments have to realize that their interest in making money is compromising the security and privacy laws they enacted. Firms like Google are exploiting the concerns of the governments about their debts and deficits, which are pushing them not to care about where the money is coming from and the social costs of such money from evil businesses.
The people must be aware of the cost of the free stuff available on the Internet. What is apparently free might actually come at the cost of our privacy and personal information. We can be manipulated through our social networks, internet ads, and other offerings to compromise our personal information. So citizens and netizens, beware of Google!