Subtitle: Blame it on the engineer
Since April 2010 we all knew, which data the Google cars are really collecting. They collect not only a) photos to build Street View, the Google 360 degree street level maps, and b) 3-D geometry data to improve Google maps but also c) WiFi network information like SSID information and MAC addresses.
In Mai 2010 Google itself found out “that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks.” Uuups, how could that little mistake have happened?
In it´s blogpost called Update this May Google blames it on an engineer working on an experimental WiFi project in 2006, who “wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast WiFi data.” Against Google´s will this bad-bad code seems to have been included within the software, that was supposed to collect basic WiFi network data, p.e. via black oder coloured Google cars. In its blog Google stresses, that it´s project leaders had no intention of using payload data, and that this data was “never used … in any Google products.”
By blogging so frankly Google seems to follow the transparency dogma. But would Google have confessed it´s payload data collecting lapse, if Prof. Dr. Johannes Caspar (Hamburgischer Beauftragter für Datenschutz und Informationsfreiheit) would not have asked his detailed questions concerning the subject and if he would not have insisted on answers?
Whatever – the official Google blog post seems to feed the world with everything it wants to know about Street View. By blogging it´s mistakes and excuses Google does not look evil, but like a transparent company, that “works hard to earn your trust”. Reading the homemade Google words we learn once more, that Google has two big and brilliant brains, the first one is the technical and the second one is the marketing brain. So far so fine, but it not possible to erase grave privacy infringements by focussing on details and by marginalising irregularities.