John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Lawmakers Would Like a Word With Google's "Rogue" WiSpy Engineer

Add two more names to the growing list of lawmakers crying foul over the Google WiSpy debacle. In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.) and Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) urge the agency to conduct a full investigation into the inadvertent collection of user data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks by Google’s Street View cars.

“Google has played an enormous role in advancing the Internet as we know it today, but Americans have a right to know the relative facts of its Wi-Fi data collection activity known to U.S. consumers, regardless of whether the FCC finds a technical violation of the law,” the letter reads, noting that a handful of probes by state attorneys general has yet to yield access to the consumer data Google harvested or an interview with the “rogue engineer” the company claims is responsible for collecting and storing it.

“Nine months after Google first admitted to collecting this data, we still don’t have answers as to how this privacy breach was allowed to take place and how many Americans were affected, let alone a credible assurance that it will not happen again,” it continues. “The lack of progress in this investigation is concerning, particularly in light of the progress made by authorities in other countries.”

And that’s a valid, and troubling, point. South Korea recently analyzed the harvested consumer data; why can’t the United States do the same? And how is it possible that the FTC concluded its investigation into this matter without talking to that rogue engineer?

“A serious inquiry into this matter requires a hearing from the engineer that Google claims is responsible for the data collecting activity. Google’s Street View Vehicles captured and stored over 600 gigabytes of data. It is difficult to understand how just one individual could have been responsible for a data collection operation of this scale.”

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work