Report: Google confesses to taking private data

The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail reports that Google has admitted its Street View cars collected private data – including passwords and emails – while roaming British streets.

Google was accused of spying on households yesterday after it
admitted secretly copying passwords and private emails from home
computers.

The internet search giant was forced to confess it
had downloaded personal data during its controversial Street View
project, when it photographed virtually every street in Britain.

In
an astonishing invasion of privacy, it admitted entire emails, web
pages and even passwords were ‘mistakenly collected’ by antennae on its
high-tech Street View cars.

Privacy campaigners accused the company of spying and branded its behaviour ‘absolutely scandalous’.

The
Information Commissioner’s Office said it would launch a new
investigation. Scotland Yard is already considering whether the company
has broken the law.

Google executive Alan Eustace issued a
grovelling apology and said the company was ‘mortified’, adding: ‘We’re
acutely aware that we failed badly.’

Many Tech-Out readers probably have their WLAN settings as secure as they can make them, but may want to take some time to double-check their settings.

Besides the question of whether Google broke any laws in the UK, this country or another others in its Street View activities, the greater question is how willing users should be when it comes to voluntarily giving Google and other companies access to personal information.

This writer uses Google and Facebook, even though it’s obvious those companies services are designed to attract customers to data mining operations. If the government admitted to warrantless spying on everyday Americans, the public (one assumes) would be outraged. Is it any better for a private company to do the same?