Ethical dilemmas‎ > ‎

Who's in that Creepy Van Parked Outside of my House?

posted Nov 8, 2010, 7:16 PM by Jamie Sibley
Chances are it's Google; the creepy company announced in May that 'the camera-equipped cars it uses to take pictures for its street mapping service for years inadvertently collected personal data from unsecured wireless networks across the world.' In defense of the company's actions, Google initially said the data that it collected was 'fragmentary--and therefore not personal or sensitive.  But Canadian regulators last month found that Google had captured highly sensitive information, including complete emails, user names and passwords...'

Google's ethical misconduct extends beyond its "significant breach" of data protection law; the company also went as far as lying to several international investigation committees. However, the largest infraction, in my opinion, comes in the form of "toothless" punishment by the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).  In exchange for breaking the law and lying to authorities, Google must 'enhance its employee training programs on privacy and security and institute a policy that requires Google engineers to maintain a privacy design document on all projects.' Really?

The bottom line: If government does not intervene and give just punishment for gross privacy violations than there will be no stopping the invasion and stealing of citizens' private information by large companies such as Google.  

This article sites Paul Sonne, U.K. Says Google Broke Data Law, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 4, 2010.

Additionally, WSJ is conducting a great series on internet privacy called "What They Know