Another Omniveillance See I Told You So – Google to Give Governments Street View Data

June 3rd, 2010

From the New York Times:

Google is bowing to the demands of four European governments and says it will begin surrendering the data it improperly collected over unsecured wireless networks.

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, France and Italy. The data is thought to include fragments of personal information like e-mail and bank account numbers.

Google had previously resisted requests from European officials and privacy advocates to hand over the data, saying it needed time to review legal issues.

Last month, Google revealed it had been inadvertently collecting 600 gigabytes of personal data, saying that the roving, camera-mounted cars in its Street View program had collected not only photographs of neighborhoods but snippets of private information from people whose personal Wi-Fi networks were left unencrypted.

Way back in 2008 in Omniveillance, I remarked that if Google was permitted to capture so much information, without any constraints, inevitably it would wind up in the hands of the state–at no cost and without the protections government searches usually need to comply with:

Additionally, with a subpoena, the government has ready access to a free surveillance network, further imperiling our civil liberties.

Sigh. Another prediction coming true.

Update: Just out of curiosity, I ran a citation check for Omniveillance. The article was officially published January 2009, and I already have 7 citations from the Boston College Law Review, the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts, Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property, the Mississippi Law Journal, Texas Wesleyan Law Review, the University of Pittsburgh Journal of Technology Law & Policy, and the Defense Counsel Journal. Pretty cool.