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Are Google abusing internet privacy?

Google have captured millions of private Wi-Fi addresses and passwords and email addresses have been taken by their mobile units. The Situation is so bad that many countries are looking into Google’s practices. Switzerland’s federal data protection and information commission is taking Google to court over its Street View mapping service.

Google have said that the ‘fragmentary’ data taken from some patrol cars was an innocent mistake but it appears that this maybe wasn’t the whole story. Robert Halfon, an MP in the United Kingdom has requested a debate in the House of Commons which could mean that MP’s may poke a little deeper into these cases.

Robert Halfon said in the Telegraph “I am no internet Luddite. In fact, in many ways I am a Google fan. I rely on its free software to run my office in the Commons, synchronising the calendar with that on my Blackberry. I have a huge belief in the power of the internet to do good, allowing citizen power at its best.

But there’s a great difference between advancement of the internet, and violating people’s right to privacy – in essence infringing people’s civil liberties. We risk sleepwalking into a privatised surveillance society.

I have no problem in Google photographing me in my garden. But I want to give permission first. And Google was not taking a few holiday snaps. It was invading our privacy on an industrial scale, for commercial purposes.”

In other countries, Google has fared little better. The Canadian privacy commissioner gave Google an official reprimand. In more extreme cases Greece and the Czech Republic have banned Street View. The Canadian privacy commissioner has gave Google an official reprimand saying that they need to tighten up their policies by February or they will face serious disciplinary action. The Spain authorities are also investigating.

KitGuru says: Have Google gone too far, or are you happy enough with things as they stand?

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