Google may want to lower the bar from “don’t be evil” to “don’t be thoughtless” after it dispatched Street View cars to a Staten Island neighborhood devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
It would be so fun to drive around in one of those Google street view cars, wouldn’t it? Happily capturing the world around you so it can be carefully digitized and archived for everyone with an Internet connection to see. Except for like, when you drive through a rough urban area and happen to have a large gun pointed at you.
Planning to sunbathe topless in Central Park this week? You might want to make sure you’re okay with having your voyeur-friendly moments played out across the Internet. Turns out Google has mounted some cameras on a dorky-looking bike and is inspecting “every nook and cranny of the 843-acre park” this week. Quick, hide that open canister!
Of course, Google insists that they will blur out faces and other identifying details as they do for all street view photos, so teenage couples that treat the park like the urban equivalent of the backseat of their parents car are safe from prying eyes.
Your move, Chuck Schumer.
The FCC might have let the company off with just a $25,000 noncompliance fine, but it doesn’t look like Google’s StreetView troubles are over just yet. The agency’s final report found that, no, the unsecured Wifi data grab wasn’t actually the rogue act of some out-of-control engineer. The supposed lone gunman was open with at least one senior manager about what he was doing–there just wasn’t interest in either stopping or encouraging his behavior.
This new gloss on the matter has European regulators reconsidering their initial leniency–and apparently they are none too pleased with Google. All but two investigations (both German) were closed when the company ascribed blame to a single out-of-line engineer, and now, according to Jacob Kohnstamm, who is the chair of the E.U.’s data privacy working group, they feel misled. “We certainly will discuss the matter” at an upcoming convention, he told the New York Times, adding, ”My first reaction is, this is a bloody shame.”