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March 13th, 2013
The lead article in today’s New York Times, “Google Concedes Drive-By Prying Violated Privacy,” describes a trumped-up effort to attack Google due to its phenomenal success. With a search engine dominating more than 75 percent of the market for years, Google is being closely scrutunized for even the most minor of violations.
The size of the fine, $7 million, provides some indication of the extent of the infraction. Google makes $32 million … per day. The ostensible reason involves Google’s Street View project in which it drove around to map various neighborhoods.
Some people who were foolish enough to run unencrypted wireless networks had, as a result, divulged their email addresses to the broad public. A rogue engineer working for Google used these email addresses for advertising purposes.
The suit brought by 38 state attorneys general therefore accused Google of privacy violations. A good bricks-and-mortar comparison? Say you left your car with the engine running and the keys in the ignition, not just for a moment but for an extended period, and someone eventually stole your car? Yes, they would be guilty of theft, but you would be guilty of extreme stupidity.
This case against Google does not even rise to the level of amateur hacking. There was no organized effort to steal from unencrypted wireless networks and no company policy to do so. It was probably just some bored employees.
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