Google to pay up in “Wi-Spy” case

posted at 11:01 am on March 9, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

This is a story which started back in 2010, when then Attorney General of Connecticut Richard Blumenthal began working with his counterparts in other states to investigate claims that web giant Google had been using their “street view” cars to take more than pictures. They were allegedly tapping into open wi-fi networks of businesses and individuals while cruising around the country and collecting all sorts of data.

“My office will lead a multistate investigation–expected to involve a significant number of states–into Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Street View cannot mean Complete View–invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications. Consumers have a right and a need to know what personal information–which could include emails, web browsing and passwords–Google may have collected, how and why.

The details of the types of data Google was sniffing out from these open portals are potentially alarming, but the company’s reaction to the charges was somewhat comical.

Now, recording passwords and extracting them are two entirely different matters, and there’s no evidence of the latter. That said, this is still an unfortunate revelation for Google (GOOG), which has sought to downplay the implications of the breach by portraying it as a mistake and the data collected as inconsequential. Indeed, last month CEO Eric Schmidt excused the company for its misstep, saying, “There was no harm, no foul.”

No harm, perhaps, but there was certainly a foul–particularly since it now appears the data collected may have been protected by privacy laws.

In fact, the list of excuses and descriptions put forth by Google in an attempt at spin control looks more like it was cooked up by a seventh grader who just got caught sneaking in after curfew. Their first response in 2010 was actually to say that they hadn’t collected any data. Then, as the investigation continues, they said they had collected data, but had done so “by accident.” Their next line of defense was that the collection software was introduced by a “rogue engineer” but left in anyway. And the last round of explanations gone awry was that they had deleted all the data anyway, but it turned out they still had some of it so they turned it over to the government.

Now the tale seems to be drawing to a close, and Google is going to have to pony up some cash to the states investigating them.

Google will soon settle with the attorneys general representing more than 30 U.S. states over its Street View cars collecting data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks, multiple sources said.

Google is to pay $7 million, to be distributed among the attorneys general, according to a person familiar with the matter. That person said the agreement is close to being finalized, and should be announced early next week.

I’m not sure how badly $7M will hurt Google, given their usual cash flow situation, but I suppose they are at least paying more attention to what sorts of things they go fishing for these days. The other question which keeps coming up for me – and maybe some of you tech experts can help out here – is exactly what sort of crime was alleged to have taken place. These instances are supposed to have taken place involving “open” or unsecured wireless networks. I have one at my house, but it’s got some pretty heavy encryption on it. If you don’t secure your wireless and people wander by and hook up to it, are they actually breaking the law? Aren’t you responsible for your own security? (Seriously… I don’t know the answer to that one. I’m just asking.)

All the original reporting for this piece came from All Things D.


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I do not use Google.

F’ ‘em.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Bing!

hillsoftx on March 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Google is bad news…

Google, and particularly its Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, have a relationship with President Obama that is too close for comfort. Schmidt has been a top-dollar donor to Obama since 2007, has consulted on his campaigns, and currently serves as a member of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. According to press reports, he was offered the post of Treasury Secretary in the second term–but ultimately declined. While holding court as one of Obama’s most trusted and generous confidants, Schmidt has continued to serve as one of Google’s most visible government relations operatives.

Since 2008, there has been a steady flow of cash, personnel, and technology from Google’s California headquarters to the White House. Google employees have given the President over $1.5 million in combined donations. In fact, they were his fourth-largest source of cash in 2008, and in third-largest in 2012. Google’s biggest contribution however was the specially-designed technology, not yet available to the public, that allowed Obama to connect with voters in ways his opponents could not.

The sad truth is that this settlement is just the latest, amid a long line of examples, in what has emerged as the cornerstone of Google’s Obama-era business model: break the law, or make the law, in a way that shackles opponents, while boosting their own bottom line ““ without suffering any real consequences.

Fallon on March 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Bing!

hillsoftx on March 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

…pays Chris Matthews’ salary.
Hard to pick a winner here.

Ronnie on March 9, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Send in…

The Drone.

Electrongod on March 9, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Google doesn’t care. $48 billion in cash on hand. $7 million=$0

Bmore on March 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Fallon on March 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

May Google reap the police state of the technology that it has sown.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

I’m not sure how badly $7M will hurt Google,…

Just a drop in the bucket for them…

But…

If it was the Federal Government..

Obama would spare no expense to fly around the country telling us Armageddon is a comin’

Electrongod on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Ronnie on March 9, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Get off the Internet already. It’s invented, funded and run by the liberals. We’re also the guys who put fluoride in your water. Stop drinking that too.

I recommend living in a cave for concerned conservatives. That way you will avoid all the evil scientific black magic.

lester on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

…pays Chris Matthews’ salary.
Hard to pick a winner here.

Ronnie on March 9, 2013 at 11:13 AM

lesser of evils, no one watches Spittles..

hillsoftx on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

All comms in my house are secure — encrypted tunnels inside encrypted wifi.

If anyone expects that their network is not viewable from the street or the alley, or even from an aircraft flying overhead, they are due for disappointment.

If I can stand outside of your house and see your network traffic, it’s not like a burglary — it’s more like you putting the contents of your house out onto the curb for me to pick through — or like a neighbor who talks about very private stuff on his cellphone outside your living room window.

I’m amazed at how many wifi networks I can see from my house — and how many of them are unencrypted.

I have no problem with anyone doing anything they want with over-the-air broadcasts — for, in broadcasting, you abrogate your right to privacy. The law might not reflect that truth, but then — since when have the Chinese, or the Russians, or any other criminal type, obeyed the rules?

As for that $7M — I’m sure that it will reach those who were supposedly harmed by Google’s actions, right?

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Google’s biggest contribution however was the specially-designed technology, not yet available to the public, that allowed Obama to connect with voters in ways his opponents could not.

Hmm. What was the value of that software, and did the Obama campaign declare said value as an in-kind donation?

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 11:21 AM

duckduckgo.com

Wino on March 9, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Get off the Internet already. It’s invented, funded and run by the liberals. We’re also the guys who put fluoride in your water. Stop drinking that too.

I recommend living in a cave for concerned conservatives. That way you will avoid all the evil scientific black magic.

lester on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

You’re the shit that I scrape off of my shoes, after I’ve walked through a field of liberals … err, cattle.

Now, run along, Boy.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Google is bad news…

Fallon on March 9, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Its competitors are running ads on TV saying that Google scans the emails of its gmail.com users for keywords for its adwords advertising. If so, that’s scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I don’t understand what info anyone can get from an unsecured wifi connection. My home wifi is unsecured. Maybe someone can park in front of my house and use my connection to download child porn. But I fail to see what personal info they can glean from my home PC.

I’d appreciate input from network techies on this.

Paul-Cincy on March 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

May Google reap the police state of the technology that it has sown.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

It is the North American equivalent of the United Fruit Company, supporting and supplying a Dictator while oppressing the peasants. By the way, in the movie, We are the peasants.

Bulletchaser on March 9, 2013 at 11:31 AM

If you don’t secure your wireless and people wander by and hook up to it, are they actually breaking the law? Aren’t you responsible for your own security?

I suppose the standard would be if you borrow someone’s open wireless network to do something on your own personal device, like surf the web (even the dirtier parts), that person has little recourse, because they left their network and wi-fi open like an unprotected hot spot.

But if you use that same wifi link to not just borrow the other person’s internet connection but also to access their computers and their information, then you probably run afoul of some privacy and anti-hacking laws, even if the data was simply laid out there for anyone to grab. Going past the router/modem and into unprotected systems is likely where Google got in trouble.

jon1979 on March 9, 2013 at 11:31 AM

$7 Million to Google is bus fare. Nothingburger.

What a disgrace for what was obviously a covert program cloaked in deception and lies. In other words, another day at the office for democrats.

HopeHeFails on March 9, 2013 at 11:38 AM

I recommend living in a cave…

lester on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

…how BIG is your rectum?

KOOLAID2 on March 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

I’d appreciate input from network techies on this.

Paul-Cincy on March 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

The only harm I can see is if you or someone in your household connects to your router via Wi-Fi.
The unauthorized person outside your house could clone your Wi-Fi connection and you would be connected to their computer, not your router.
You wouldn’t even know this was happening.
Now they can see all your internet traffic.

Electrongod on March 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM

I’d appreciate input from network techies on this.

Paul-Cincy on March 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Yup, they do. It’s done by computer — not humans (because that would be expensive); the e-mail is parsed for keyword distribution, and then a database is consulted so as to bring up ads on gmail appropriate to the content of the e-mail. Of course, it’s kind of a stupid way to do things, because now you are seeing ads based on the content of e-mail someone else sent you rather than stuff in which you might actually be interested, but hey, they are making money off of this, while providing you a supposedly free service.

As for Microsoft, who is behind the ad campaign against Google, you might like to know that Outlook can be configured to BCC e-mails based on content (or even all e-mails) to your boss or some other individual in the company (including that friendly tech support guy…). And you cannot ask Outlook to show you the added BCC destinations….

In the realm of privacy, I’d say that Microsoft’s software is far more dangerous than Google’s software.

Also in the realm of privacy, I’d say that running your own mailserver is the best privacy solution you can have — then only your ISP can look at your e-mails, and, then, only the ones which are not encrypted.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 11:47 AM

but I suppose they are at least paying more attention to what sorts of things they go fishing for these days.

Jazz, put your dunce cap on and sit in the corner. The only lesson that Google will take away from this, is to be more careful about how the collect peoples private information. Corporations are fictional amoral creatures, the court case revealed as much about “Google The Corporations” personal character as the crime itself did.

While Corporations are made of individual human beings, they become living entities in and of themselves. Like the human being that they employe, they develop distinct individual personalities. Those personalities are a synthesis of all of the personalities of all of the individuals employed by the corporation.

The more people employed by the corporation, the more difficult it becomes to modify the personality of the corporation. This is what the term “Corporate Culture” refers to. Certain attitudes and practices become endemic to the corporation because large segments of the employes habitually engage in certain practices.

In the case of Google, an atmosphere of privileged intellectual entitlement runs rampant. It’s an attitude not uncommon among programmers and code writers. Usually it is an attitude that does not systemically permeate management. Google is a unique because all of it’s top management are programmers.

This “atmosphere of privileged intellectual entitlement” holds certain antisocial beliefs. Amongst those beliefs, that the copyright laws are badly written or out right wrong. :Siva Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights and Copywrongs: : Larry Lessig, Copyright as Cudgel:

By virtue of their ability to cast complex magical spells/write complex code (yes there is a very tangible dungeons and dragons element in that statement and the beliefs it represents) many people in the programing community believe that they have an innate right to any digital information that they can find a way to access.

This is what is at the core and root of this entire court case. Not so much that various Google employes intentionally violated the privacy of other individuals, but the systemic belief that permeates Google that they have a special entitled privilege to information, and that if you, the individual are not intelligent enough to protect your personal information, that you are fair game.

This mentality is precisely why Google will only learn to be more careful about getting caught, rather than learning that what they did was not only illegal, but immoral and unethical.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM

BING.

I don’t care if it funds some hashbrown on a network no one watches. BING pays attention to national holidays and our veterans, the commies at Google paint their site green for Ramadan and conveniently forget Memorial Day.

Eff them.

Bishop on March 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Google is to pay $7 million, to be distributed among the attorneys general, according to a person familiar with the matter. That person said the agreement is close to being finalized, and should be announced early next week.

CA legislators now ticked off that they won’t get any cash, since they supported the data collection.

(OK, I made that up, but it sounds perfectly logical)

BobMbx on March 9, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Bing!

hillsoftx on March 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Good god man, what is wrong with you? Do you honestly think MICROSOFT is one single bit more ethical or moral than Google?

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Get off the Internet already. It’s invented, funded and run by the liberals. We’re also the guys who put fluoride in your water. Stop drinking that too.

I recommend living in a cave for concerned conservatives. That way you will avoid all the evil scientific black magic.

lester on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Not real liberals though, because many of them are hyper-wealthy 1%’ers who live lives of luxury you and I can only dream about.

The wealthy are bad, remember; please stick with the company line from now on or you will be banned.

Bishop on March 9, 2013 at 11:53 AM

lester on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Says a liberal, who has no fear of identity theft, since being a liberal by default means ‘low probability of assets worth stealing’.

BobMbx on March 9, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Says a liberal, who has no fear of identity theft, since being a liberal by default means ‘low probability of assets worth stealing’.

BobMbx on March 9, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Or of having any conception of an identity.

The anathema of the collective.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 12:01 PM

If you don’t secure your wireless and people wander by and hook up to it, are they actually breaking the law? Aren’t you responsible for your own security?

I suppose the standard would be if you borrow someone’s open wireless network to do something on your own personal device, like surf the web (even the dirtier parts), that person has little recourse, because they left their network and wi-fi open like an unprotected hot spot.

But if you use that same wifi link to not just borrow the other person’s internet connection but also to access their computers and their information, then you probably run afoul of some privacy and anti-hacking laws, even if the data was simply laid out there for anyone to grab. Going past the router/modem and into unprotected systems is likely where Google got in trouble.

jon1979 on March 9, 2013 at 11:31 AM

You would suppose wrong, accessing any computer network without permission is a class A Felony (It’s called “Unauthorized access”). Just because you leave your car or your front door unlocked when you leave does not make it legal for anyone who wants to to enter or do as they please.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Get off the Internet already. It’s invented, funded and run by the liberals. We’re also the guys who put fluoride in your water. Stop drinking that too.

I recommend living in a cave for concerned conservatives. That way you will avoid all the evil scientific black magic.

lester on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Are you really that brain dead to believe that there are no Conservatives in technologies industries?

lol, you people are duluded by your own propaganda. Google also filters with a liberal bias. Does that little bit of 1st Amendment news make you proud too?

hawkdriver on March 9, 2013 at 12:06 PM

This mentality is precisely why Google will only learn to be more careful about getting caught, rather than learning that what they did was not only illegal, but immoral and unethical.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Pretty astute insight from somebody who was not a code monkey.

Yeah, I spent some time in my career as a code monkey.

AZfederalist on March 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Hmm. What was the value of that software, and did the Obama campaign declare said value as an in-kind donation?

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 11:21 AM

…and just rest assured…any closing of corporate tax loopholes…will not apply to Google for one reason or another…some “Ryder” will be attached to that tax reform bill!

KOOLAID2 on March 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

jon1979 on March 9, 2013 at 11:31 AM

What you are describing is theft of resources. The person whose network you are using without permission is paying for the bandwidth which you are consuming.

What Google did was different — they merely listened to the network traffic, tore apart the packets, and analysed the resulting data. They never sent one byte of data onto anyone else’s network.

If they had, I’d have a whole different view of the situation, given the first paragraph above.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 12:09 PM

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Pretty astute insight from somebody who was not a code monkey.

Yeah, I spent some time in my career as a code monkey.

AZfederalist on March 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

ROTFLMAO… What makes you think I was never a code monkey? I got my first computer in 1981, it was a Timex Sinclair ZX81. Now I do admit that I was never very good at writing code, but that didn’t stop me from being a Microsoft Beta test Developer from Dos 1.1 through Whistler Build 2462. They didn’t pay me, but I did get all of the Microsoft software for free up until XP… lol lol lol

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:17 PM

If they had, I’d have a whole different view of the situation, given the first paragraph above.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 12:09 PM

So when local law enforcement or the ‘MIB’ rifle through your garbage whenever they feel like it, more power to’em, right?

How about reading your email without a warrant? How about reading your snailmail without a warrant, as long as they read it off of your property and then deliver it as promised?

Peeping through your windows? Careful here, your significant other may be interested in the answer.

“No honey, seriously….its your own fault that the neighbor has installed high-power telephoto cameras trained on your bathroom window…I watch you shower live on the internet all the time”

BobMbx on March 9, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Get off the Internet already. It’s invented, funded and run by the liberals. We’re also the guys who put fluoride in your water. Stop drinking that too.

I recommend living in a cave for concerned conservatives. That way you will avoid all the evil scientific black magic.

lester on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Ahem. I’m a conservative, and I played a role, albeit minor, whilst at UCLA and at RAND, in bringing the Internet to fruition.

And, just so we know whose goose we’re cooking, what’s going on here with Google is similar to the interceptions of digital phone circuits from foreign countries transiting the United States. As I remember, your side got all bent over those interceptions under President Bush. While they undoubtedly continue, I don’t notice the liberals having much outrage over what’s happening under President Obama. Selective outrage is no outrage at all.

As for me, I say — good luck making sense out of any packet you intercept from my wifi, for I don’t want people looking at my private data, and so I take the necessary steps to protect it. If my bank account gets exposed, it will be at the other endpoint, not mine.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Here is the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act:

21 O.S. Section 1953 Unlawful Acts – Penalties

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

SWalker on March 9, 2013

…I’ve lost track of time… with work and the kids being home from school I haven’t been going through all the threads end to end the last week or two…did you find a way to stay on?…I hope so!

KOOLAID2 on March 9, 2013 at 12:28 PM

F**k Google and the horse they rode in on.They are part of the reason for helping the Kenyan Fraud get re-elected.

jeffinsjvca on March 9, 2013 at 12:28 PM

So when local law enforcement or the ‘MIB’ rifle through your garbage whenever they feel like it, more power to’em, right?

How about reading your email without a warrant? How about reading your snailmail without a warrant, as long as they read it off of your property and then deliver it as promised?

BobMbx on March 9, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Absolutely. Which is why nothing sensitive ever goes into the trash without having been crosscut-shredded and soaked in water overnight. More power to ‘em. And the people I worry about most are not local law enforcement, or our Government, but even bigger fish than that. I watch them 24/7 trying to break into my bastion server.

As a kid, I used to go through other people’s trash all the time. Got my first Kodak Brownie camera that way — I fixed the shutter, and had a camera I could not afford to buy. I assume others are doing the same to me.

Everyone is welcome to go through my trash and pick out anything they want. Just don’t go through my recycle bin, because the City has put a big sign on it saying it’s illegal (heh).

Now, if they want to read my e-mail without a warrant, go right ahead. If anything I send to someone else is sensitive, I encrypt it as an attachment.

And as for my snailmail, I use it for paying bills, or for getting junk mail. Now, if I were visiting bordellos and the such, I might have something to worry about. My rule is that I live my life in such a way that there is no possibility of blackmail.

I view my privacy as a right I must enforce, not my Government. If I don’t do the basic steps, how can I expect my Government to do more?

I pity the people who live their lives in any other way.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 12:34 PM

jon1979 on March 9, 2013 at 11:31 AM

What you are describing is theft of resources. The person whose network you are using without permission is paying for the bandwidth which you are consuming.

What Google did was different — they merely listened to the network traffic, tore apart the packets, and analysed the resulting data. They never sent one byte of data onto anyone else’s network.

If they had, I’d have a whole different view of the situation, given the first paragraph above.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Which is precisely why Google was charged with privacy violations rather than the much more serious “Unauthorized Access”. Like yourself I recognize that there are legal statutes that protect me illegal eavesdropping or Unauthorized access, I also recognize and accept that their is no shortage of individuals who either do not know that both of those are criminal activities, or just plain do not care.

Yes, my network is secured and all important data is encrypted. I’ve been using PGP since the early 90′s.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:37 PM

SWalker on March 9, 2013

…I’ve lost track of time… with work and the kids being home from school I haven’t been going through all the threads end to end the last week or two…did you find a way to stay on?…I hope so!

KOOLAID2 on March 9, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Yes, well, mostly anyways. I found a way to keep my cell phone on, and since I jailbroke it about 3 years ago and installed a Wi-Fi Hotspot program on it I can access the intertubes with my laptop through the Hotspot. Got to love those grandfather clauses, No extra charge for the Wi-Fi Hotspot because it was done before jailbreakng became illegal or my carrier started charging for the Hotspot software.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM

That way you will avoid all the evil scientific black magic.

lester on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

You wouldn’t know what evil scientific black magic was even if it dumped a bucket of brown waste upon you. BTW you seem to still be sucking of the teat of big energy to post here. According to some of those evil scientific magicians that causes Gorbal Warming and is very bad for the environment. Of course you will quote the party line about the environment but live as a hypocrite.

chemman on March 9, 2013 at 12:43 PM

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM

…I know it’s early…but…*clink*…I’m glad!

KOOLAID2 on March 9, 2013 at 12:43 PM

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM

…I know it’s early…but…*clink*…I’m glad!

KOOLAID2 on March 9, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Heh heh heh, a) It’s Saturday, b) I’m a former Rock Star and c) I’m a damned Redneck… It’s never to early for a “clink* on a rainy Saturday morning… ;)

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:46 PM

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:46 PM

A rainy Saturday morning in sunny California and a snowy Saturday morning in my neck of the woods in Arizona.

chemman on March 9, 2013 at 12:48 PM

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:46 PM

A rainy Saturday morning in sunny California and a snowy Saturday morning in my neck of the woods in Arizona.

chemman on March 9, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Off and on rainy here in Tucson as well. I like it.

AZfederalist on March 9, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Here is the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act:

21 O.S. Section 1953 Unlawful Acts – Penalties

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Under said law, what Google did was lawful. And the wording on that law makes me think it was written by liberals — technologically clueless. A better written law would prevent a listener from recording onto a storage device said transmissions, regardless of what or where the storage device was.

If what Google did as they drove by was criminal, then so is your neighbor’s use of SSID in order to identify your network — even if the intent of identifying your network is to avoid using it. Your network beacons SSIDs (if you have a standard wifi configuration) every few seconds, and that data is visible to any wireless device in range of the emitter. Even if you have SSID turned off, your network still beacons every few seconds — if only to inform other networks that your given band is “taken”. Now, receiving these broadcasts — made on a public no-license band — is the INTENT of every other piece of wifi equipment in the area.

It’s when the receiver also attempts to transmit into your network — either to disrupt it or to influence it — that theft occurs.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Jazz

While the states (and I might add, several European nations) challenged Google for invasion of privacy, the federal government did not. The FCC whitewashed it and the last I heard the FTC was still looking into it. And nothing was heard from Justice.

Had this been the Koch brothers, Holder would have been all over it. Kinda makes you think that the administration was a beneficiary of Google’s slimy shenanigans.

Corky Boyd on March 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:46 PM

A rainy Saturday morning in sunny California and a snowy Saturday morning in my neck of the woods in Arizona.

chemman on March 9, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Yea, were getting a bit of that damned cold white stuff just up the road a few miles from me as well.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:57 PM

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Oklahoma’s legislature is the polar opposite of Liberal. You might as well have accused Patton of being a pussy.

I think that, like most laws concerning computers, it’s just always a tad behind the times.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Granted, I do not know the specifics of this case but typically the way something like this works is that they’ll simply record all wifi activity as they’re driving. From that data they extract SSID’s – the wireless network name along with GPS data.

The use being using wifi networks in a given area to help assist with GPS location. Super handy in cities like NY where getting a GPS lock might take an annoying amount of time to occur.

The reason that things like encryption keys were recorded? They simply recorded all wifi data, and the encryption keys are part of each and every packet.

This case is a lot less invasion of privacy than people think – and it’s being spurred by journalists that don’t understand the fundamentals of how this technology works exactly.

spkthed on March 9, 2013 at 12:59 PM

I think that, like most laws concerning computers, it’s just always a tad behind the times.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 12:59 PM

The only thing about computers and the Internet that politicians care to understand is trying to find the ‘best’ way possible to tax them.

Liam on March 9, 2013 at 1:07 PM

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 12:53 PM

It sounds, to me, like Google would’ve committed a felony, in Oklahoma, as per:

A. It shall be unlawful to:

1. Willfully, and without authorization, gain or attempt to gain access to and damage, modify, alter, delete, destroy, copy, make use of, disclose or take possession of a computer, computer system, computer network or any other property;

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Liam on March 9, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Damned if I know. The last thing I am is a computer wizard.

But, Oklahoma is anything but Liberal. Starting with her Legislature.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Granted, I do not know the specifics of this case but typically the way something like this works is that they’ll simply record all wifi activity as they’re driving. From that data they extract SSID’s – the wireless network name along with GPS data.

The use being using wifi networks in a given area to help assist with GPS location. Super handy in cities like NY where getting a GPS lock might take an annoying amount of time to occur.

The reason that things like encryption keys were recorded? They simply recorded all wifi data, and the encryption keys are part of each and every packet.

This case is a lot less invasion of privacy than people think – and it’s being spurred by journalists that don’t understand the fundamentals of how this technology works exactly.

spkthed on March 9, 2013 at 12:59 PM

A little Light reading on the subject for you.

18 USC § 2511 – Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 1:13 PM

[there] is no shortage of individuals who either do not know that both of those are criminal activities, or just plain do not care.

Yes, my network is secured and all important data is encrypted. I’ve been using PGP since the early 90′s.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 12:37 PM

It doesn’t matter that these are or are not criminal activities. If data is profitable, someone will try to harvest it. It’s up to you and me to protect all of our respective profitable data.

Like you, I don’t leave that to the laws, or to a third party.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Aren’t you responsible for your own security?

Yes, you are. But if you happen to leave your front door unlocked while at the grocery store, is that an open invitation to come on in and help yourself?

GarandFan on March 9, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Let’s be perfectly clear here, what Google did was illegal, pure and simple, which is why they were fined 7 million dollars.

Prohibition on Interception of Communications

ECPA does include important provisions that protect a person’s wire and electronic communications from being intercepted by another private individual. In general, the statute bars wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping, possession of wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping equipment, and the use or disclosure of information unlawfully obtained through wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping. The Wiretap Act prohibits any person from intentionally intercepting or attempting to intercept a wire, oral or electronic communication by using any electronic, mechanical or other device. To be clear, an electronic device must be used to perform the surveillance; mere eavesdropping with the unaided ear is not illegal under ECPA.

There are exceptions to this blanket prohibition, such as if the interception is authorized by statute for law enforcement purposes or consent of at least one of the parties is given. Although some states prohibit the recording of conversations unless all parties consent, ECPA requires only one party consent; an individual can record his own conversation without violating federal law. In the workplace, an employer would likely not violate ECPA by listening to an employee’s communications if, for example, blanket consent was given as part of the employee’s contract.

In addition to criminalizing the actual wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping, ECPA also prohibits an individual from disclosing such information obtained illegally if the person has reason to know that it was obtained illegally through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication. Similarly, if a person cannot lawfully disclose a lawful law enforcement wiretapping and if he has reason to know that doing so will obstruct a criminal investigation.
Prohibition on Access of Communications

While the Wiretap Act addresses the interception of communications, the Stored Communications Act addresses access to stored communications at rest. In the modern context, this primarily refers to e-mails that are not in transit. The Act makes it unlawful to intentionally access a facility in which electronic communication services are provided and obtain, alter, or prevent unauthorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage in such system. This statute also makes exceptions for law enforcement access and user consent.

As with other forms of communication protected under ECPA, an employer is generally forbidden from accessing an employee’s private e-mails. However, if consent is given in the form of an employment contract that explicitly authorizes the employer to access e-mails, it may be lawful under ECPA for him to do so.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 1:23 PM

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Section (g) is quite informative:

It shall not be unlawful under this chapter or chapter 121 of this title for any person—
(i) to intercept or access an electronic communication made through an electronic communication system that is configured so that such electronic communication is readily accessible to the general public;

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Let’s be perfectly clear here, what Google did was illegal, pure and simple, which is why they were fined 7 million dollars.

Not fined. It’s a settlement.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:26 PM

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 1:08 PM

They did not make use of the network, nor any computer upon it. They intercepted emanations from that network — emanations occurring within a non-licensed public use radio band.

Had they transmitted one byte onto the network, then I would say they are guilty of the statute — they would then be using the network.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:31 PM

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Is it not a WiFi computer network?

Did they not gain access to a WiFi computer network?

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 1:36 PM

They did not make use of the network, nor any computer upon it. They intercepted emanations from that network — emanations occurring within a non-licensed public use radio band.

Had they transmitted one byte onto the network, then I would say they are guilty of the statute — they would then be using the network.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:31 PM

That sounds to me like they gained access or made use of a computer network.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Guess that Google motto is getting in the way of their business.

john1schn on March 9, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Let’s be perfectly clear here, what Google did was illegal, pure and simple, which is why they were fined 7 million dollars.

Not fined. It’s a settlement.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:26 PM

If they didn’t do anything wrong, then why are they settling. Legal mumbo jumbo here, the Obamanation Administration refused to allow the FCC to investigate criminal activities committed by Google, think Obama’s Google app for getting reelected if you want to know why. 9 other nations on the other hand did convict Google of criminal violations of their electronic Privacy acts.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 1:47 PM

duckduckgo.com

Wino on March 9, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Correct! I was going to post that, but you beat me to it.
I used to use Bing until I found out it was connected to Yahoo.

Also use maskme://index.html/#home to mask my email/phone numbers when I register anywhere.

Also use https://disconnect.me/help for secure wi-fi.

Use DoNotTrackMe from abine to block the sites that follow me (Facebook, etc. along with weird named ones.

Also, use Google Block (for FireFox.

avagreen on March 9, 2013 at 1:47 PM

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Section (g) is quite informative:

It shall not be unlawful under this chapter or chapter 121 of this title for any person—
(i) to intercept or access an electronic communication made through an electronic communication system that is configured so that such electronic communication is readily accessible to the general public;

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Technically that amounts to the right to read your house address from the street, and that is about as far as that goes.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 1:49 PM

I used to use Bing until I found out it was connected to Yahoo.

avagreen on March 9, 2013 at 1:47 PM

ROTFLMAO… Bing beg connected to Yahoo is the least of it, Bing IS Microsoft.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Did they not gain access to a WiFi computer network?

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 1:36 PM

No. Gaining access implies beginning to influence operation, which happens when one participates as a node in the network. In other words, two way communication is required.

That’s another problem with the Oklahoma statute — if they intended to state that “acquiring data” from a network was illegal, then those words should have been used — with the appropriate easements for use of SSIDs and beaconing signals of other types.

To understand the correct use of “gain access”, Google (heh) “gain access” and see what pops up.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Questions re: duckduckgo -

Does it give you as much information as a Bing search engine?

Can you make it your ONLY browser?

If so, how can I get rid of Bing?

Thanks for any info.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 2:01 PM

To understand the correct use of “gain access”, Google (heh) “gain access” and see what pops up.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:59 PM

I think that it would be reasonable to interpret “gaining access” as “intercepting.”

Anyway, it was interesting, and I appreciate your feedback.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 2:03 PM

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 1:59 PM

P.S. Does your interpretation of “gaining access” have its basis in Federal law, or in Oklahoma law?

The State’s have every right to more specifically delineate and interpret their Computer Crime laws.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 2:07 PM

…pays Chris Matthews’ salary.
Hard to pick a winner here.

Ronnie on March 9, 2013 at 11:13 AM

lesser of evils, no one watches Spittles..

hillsoftx on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Actually Microsoft sold back their stake in MSNBC to NBC several years ago.

Adjoran on March 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Technically that amounts to the right to read your house address from the street, and that is about as far as that goes.

SWalker on March 9, 2013 at 1:49 PM

If the rights imparted by law are to be interpreted expansively rather than restrictively, then I’d say it amounts to a right to read far more than your house address from the street — it also amounts to a right to read the campaign sign on your lawn, to paw through the trash you leave for pickup out on the street….

In other words, anything someone can observe about you from off of your property. That means that Google Maps’ satellite data showing my house from the air is not illegal. Nor is their publication of my SSIDs (“aethyrfyre8″, “aethyrfyre52″, “aethyrfyre25″, “aethyrfyre3″,…) in Google Location Services illegal. In fact, had I been transmitting data in the open, I’d say that even that data is public — having crossed my property line and gone into the street.

If I ever become truly paranoid about my data, I’ll be sure to use Cantennas between my house and my garage, and I’ll paint the exterior of both with TEMPEST paint. Of course, if I do that, my wife will kill me because I’ve screwed up all the cellphones in the house, but that’s just something I’ll have to live (or not) with…

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 2:10 PM

P.S. Does your interpretation of “gaining access” have its basis in Federal law, or in Oklahoma law?

The State’s have every right to more specifically delineate and interpret their Computer Crime laws.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Neither, because neither defines the term. I agree, if OK has defined the term “gain access” to include mere reception (akin to listening or seeing) as illegal, then there you go — it’s illegal under OK law.

But if I were Google, and faced with that definition of “gain access”, I’d defend myself by pointing out that the federal telecommunications acts awarding this right to listen to public communications trumps any countervailing state law under the 14th Amendment.

It all in the matter of which laws you consider as expanding your rights. When two parties are in conflict, each will point to different laws.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 2:18 PM

But if I were Google, and faced with that definition of “gain access”, I’d defend myself by pointing out that the federal telecommunications acts awarding this right to listen to public communications trumps any countervailing state law under the 14th Amendment.

It all in the matter of which laws you consider as expanding your rights. When two parties are in conflict, each will point to different laws.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Except that the States can, pursuant to their own Constitutions, enact more expansive Fourth Amendment protections than are afforded under the Federal Constitution.

Accordingly, the States can, pursuant to their own Constitutions, enact more restrictive Computer Crime laws than are afforded under any Federal telecommunications acts.

It appears that the question of whether or not Google would’ve violated Oklahoma’s Computer Crime laws, has not been settled.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 2:33 PM

These instances are supposed to have taken place involving “open” or unsecured wireless networks. I have one at my house, but it’s got some pretty heavy encryption on it.

I may not be a networking wizard, but if you have pretty heavy encryption, you no longer have an “open” or unsecured wireless network.

RoadRunner on March 9, 2013 at 2:44 PM

It appears that the question of whether or not Google would’ve violated Oklahoma’s Computer Crime laws, has not been settled.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Did OK charge Google under this law? I couldn’t find anything indicating that they did.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Did OK charge Google under this law? I couldn’t find anything indicating that they did.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 2:56 PM

I have no idea. But, that is irrelevant, concerning the matter of whether or not Oklahoma law has been violated.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Guess that Google motto is getting in the way of their business.

john1schn on March 9, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Silly boy, their motto isn’t “Don’t DO evil”, it’s “Don’t BE evil”.
Pursuant to the entitlement mentality referenced up-thread,
Google, by definition, is NEVER evil.

AesopFan on March 9, 2013 at 3:01 PM

CEO Eric Schmidt excused the company for its misstep, saying, “There was no harm, no foul.”

If Schmidt truly believes his own statement he should be happy to release all that same type information from every Google site worldwide. He should also order that no Google site will change any of the information released since none of the people they collected information were informed so that they could take action to change or protect their information.

RJL on March 9, 2013 at 3:28 PM

I have no idea. But, that is irrelevant, concerning the matter of whether or not Oklahoma law has been violated.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 3:00 PM

I would assume that whatever Google did, it did all over the world. The Europeans are incensed about the violation of privacy, so I’d expect any place whose laws have been violated to be proactive in the enforcement of the violated laws.

But if no law was violated, then whatever happens would be identical to what would happen if a law were violated and the transgressor not punished. An unenforced law is the equivalent of no law at all — which I think all those who have been upset over the illegal alien issue would attest.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Questions re: duckduckgo -

Does it give you as much information as a Bing search engine?

Can you make it your ONLY browser?

If so, how can I get rid of Bing?

Thanks for any info.
OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 2:01 PM

I think you meant “Can you make it your only search engine.”
To choose search engine: If you have FF, you can click on the left side of your search engine box and choose DuckDuckGo. If it’s not listed(which it won’t be), click on “Manage Search Engines”. And, then type it in.

Regarding info it brings up: Not as many as Bing, but I’ve found it quite sufficient for my purposes. If I wish to check if there are other info available, I go back to Bing, do my search, and then go back to DDG. I erase my cookies and empty my cache every few minutes, as well, to erase anythig that may have been been deposited for mining. May not help as much as I hope, but it’s still worth trying.

avagreen on March 9, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Also, I’ve used Chrome browser a few times (when FF wouldn’t let me download a document), and if I’m not mistaken you can choose your search engine there, too.

avagreen on March 9, 2013 at 3:47 PM

I recommend living in a cave for concerned conservatives. That way you will avoid all the evil scientific black magic.

lester, it’s time for your violin lesson! on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

We have no choice-you and your fellow Low-IQ Democrat Voters have all of the dark areas under the bridges spoken for!

Del Dolemonte on March 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Lots of medicinal dope shops and dope smokers, in several states, are currently in violation of the Federal marijuana laws, and remain uncharged. Whether or not one is charged, is irrelevant to whether or not one has broken the law.

I’m satisfied that my original proposition is correct – that the matter of whether or not Google has violated Oklahoma’s Computer Crimes laws remains a possibility.

That was my only proposition, so very long ago.

I’m moving on.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Google to pay up in “Wi-Spy” case

Hope they’ve learned their lesson…next time, they’ll just be more careful not to get caught.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 9, 2013 at 3:50 PM

avagreen on March 9, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Thanks for the info.

Your time is appreciated.

I use CCleaner after every session on the computer. And, for that matter, I use a Very Complex Overwrite – 35 passes.

:O)

Thanks, again.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Now I would suppose it is only wisdom when I leave my home that I ought to lock my doors. Supposing I didn’t, does that mean it’s lawful for someone to enter uninvited and look around?

I figure it’s the same with “open” wireless networks.

Sackett on March 9, 2013 at 4:11 PM

OhEssYouCowboys on March 9, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Whadduh know. I do, too!

It really takes a long time to clean up the Avira register…….the first time, it was like 10 minutes. I thought it was broken.

avagreen on March 9, 2013 at 5:17 PM

…pays Chris Matthews’ salary.

I thought that Microsoft no longer had a stake in either the broadcast part of the company as of about five years ago, and now has no stake at all.

Get off the Internet already. It’s invented, funded and run by the liberals. We’re also the guys who put fluoride in your water. Stop drinking that too.

I don’t care if he is a troll; funny is funny. I mean, do you all just avoid name-brand smartphones a la Britta Perry?

calbear on March 9, 2013 at 7:26 PM

I just discovered that Google has been downloading all the email traffic in all my POP3 email accounts into my infrequently used gmail account. I never set that up to happen – somehow they got all the POP3 account info and passwords for doing so out of my Outlook application and began vacuuming up all my communications.

I wasn’t aware of it since I funnel all my POP3 email into my Outlook inbox and never found it necessary to actually visit the gmail account once it was set up.

Don’t trust Google.

in_awe on March 9, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Don’t trust Google.

in_awe on March 9, 2013 at 7:41 PM

If this happened, your leak was via Outlook.

Don’t trust Microsoft.

unclesmrgol on March 9, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Get off the Internet already. It’s invented, funded and run by the liberals. We’re also the guys who put fluoride in your water. Stop drinking that too.

I recommend living in a cave for concerned conservatives. That way you will avoid all the evil scientific black magic.

lester on March 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Since we’re making a list, let’s add to that lynched blacks in the old South, gassed millions of Jews, started a eugenics program that turned into Planned Parenthood… Shall we go on?

spinach.chin on March 9, 2013 at 8:32 PM

Google doesn’t care. $48 billion in cash on hand. $7 million=$0

Bmore on March 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Wait a minute. Isn’t that about the same percentage out of the federal budget as the sequestration? That should topple Google overnight!!

TugboatPhil on March 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM