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Google May Be Reading Your Personal E-mails

June 7, 2010

Google, for me, has long been synonymous with power abuse, evidenced by Google Books (a print version of illegal file sharing), as well as other attempts to seem as though they, as a corporate entity are doing all good on the internet for the sake of the people while raking in the data by selling personal information.  Now the Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, is requesting that Google tell all regarding how much personal information Google may have skimmed by accessing its users’ personal accounts and computers in a rather sly bid to create Street View:

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Monday urged Google to “come clean to the American public” on whether the search engine illegally collected data in the state from personal and business wireless computer networks for its mapping service.

The controversy stems from the search engine’s Street View feature, which provides pictures of neighborhoods.

Last month, Google representatives acknowledged they had mistakenly collected data over public Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries.

During a news conference, Blumenthal said the data collection could give Google access to personal e-mails, passwords and web browsing histories, though he had no reports of any problems.

“People have legitimate expectations that private information will be kept private,” he said. “These drive-by data sweeps may violate not only those expectations, but also possibly the law.”

Authorities in Germany and Australia already have launched their own investigations into the matter.

You read that correctly:  over 30 COUNTRIES, not counties.  Google may have done this “accidentally” (although one wonders how a tech giant like Google ever accidentally collects scores of personal information to sell), but whether accidental or not, what is Google doing to fix this invasion?

As our world becomes more digitally oriented, we are more and more at risk for privacy violations, as in privacy/ security  violations with electronic medical records, security violations in regards to identity theft, credit scores, government records.  We are now more vulnerable than we were even 15 years ago to all kinds of personal theft and invasion, with Google’s insult, “accidental” illegal actions making this one of the largest international incidents yet.

The Wall Street Journal’s story requires a purchase (which I am not inclined to make), but other news organizations are also reporting on this huge privacy invasion:

BY SCOTT MORRISON

SAN FRANCISCO—Connecticut’s attorney general is asking Google Inc. whether it collected personal information sent over wireless networks in the state, as a growing privacy controversy involving the Internet giant continues to ripple around the world...

Here is the Michigan tie-in, provided by EPIC:

Congress Pursues Investigation of Google and Facebook’s Business Practices

Following similar letters from other Congressional leaders, the head of the House Judiciary Committee has asked Google Inc. and Facebook to cooperate with government inquiries into privacy practices at both companies. Rep. Conyers (D-MI) noted that Google’s collection of user data “may be the subject of federal and state investigations” and asked Google to retain the data until “such time as review of this matter is complete.”

Ah, makes me feel proud of Michigan here.

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