Omniveillance Update: Google’s Wi-Fi snoop nabbed passwords and emails

June 18th, 2010

From The Register:

The Wi-Fi traffic collected by Google’s world-roving Street View cars included passwords and email, according to a report citing a preliminary study from the French data protection authority.

IDG reports that the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) has examined part of the data, after it was turned over by Google. “It’s still too early to say what will happen as a result of this investigation,” CNIL told IDG.

“However, we can already state that […] Google did indeed record e-mail access passwords [and] extracts of the content of email messages.”

Because Google collected this information for their own purposes, there is no state action. Now imagine the government sought this information. With a subpoena, under the special needs doctrine, the government would now have access to passwords of people around the world.

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.

Just wait till the government figures out all of the information they can get from Google.