New From Google Labs: Orwellian Surveillance Apparatus

Published on May 8, 2012
by John Paczkowski

Google may have put its Street View data-collection debacle to rest in the U.S. with the payment of a $25,000 fine to the Federal Communications Commission, but in Europe it may not get off quite so easily.

There, lawmakers are calling for a stronger response to Google’s collection of personal data from the Wi-Fi routers of unsuspecting households. And the rhetoric of condemnation for the company’s actions is ramping up.

To wit, European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding’s recent comments to Der Spiegel, decrying Google as an “Orwellschem Überwachungsapparat.”

That’s German for “Orwellian surveillance apparatus.”

Which is a pointed and nasty criticism of Google’s practices, particularly coming from an EU justice commissioner. Evidently, Reding was not at all happy to discover that Google’s harvesting of sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company had long maintained. Said Reding, “My impression is that Google has trampled European data protection legislation.”

Google’s Street View debacle is still being reviewed by regulators in Germany and France.

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