John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Well, Hell, If I Knew All I Had to Do Was Seize the Hard Drives…

Connecticut Attorney General Senator Richard Blumenthal must be beside himself. South Korea has managed to do what he so far has not: Analyze the consumer data harvested by Google’s Street View cars. And the results of that analysis do not bode well for the company’s relationship with the country.

According to South Korea’s Cyber Terror Response Center, the hard drives it seized from Google’s Seoul office last August contained a smorgasbord of consumer data. “We unlocked 79 computer hard disks seized from Google Korea last summer and discovered e-mails, instant messages and other private data sent over Wi-Fi networks,” Response Center official Jung Suk-hwa told the Korea Times. “We are now working on an additional 145 hard drives, which were handed over to us later. These disks had previously been taken out of the country.”

But whether those drives hold similar information or not, it’s already clear that Google violated South Korea’s law protecting telecommunications privacy. That said, it’s not immediately clear if the company will face a penalty for that. “We are looking to penalize whoever ordered and developed the program, but are unsure as of yet who that might be,” a police official told the Korea Herald. “Even after we confirm the identity of the suspect, we believe it will most likely be a U.S. citizen, and it is unclear whether the Korean Police Agency can prosecute those involved.”

An interesting remark, since Google has so far refused to identify the “rogue engineer” responsible for this whole Wi-Spy debacle. Perhaps if South Korea is able to do this, he or she can clarify things and confirm the veracity of Google’s explanation.

Google, for its part, trotted out yet another version of the same apologetic statement it’s issued in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Britain….

“We are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted networks. As soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all Wi-Fi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities. We have been co-operating with the Korean Communications Commission and the police, and will continue to do so. Our ultimate objective remains to delete the data consistent with our legal obligations and in consultation with the appropriate authorities.”

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google