Australia and Google == Pot and kettle

I am outraged at the fact that nation-states that regularly trample upon the privacy rights of their citizens were outraged when Google made some revelations related to “unintended” breach of privacy last month. Australia runs its own version of the Great Firewall and blocks “illegal” content, wants visitors to the country to declare their “porn collection”, finds nothing wrong with all this, but is not happy with Google snooping on unsecured wifi connections. Sadly, such governments have their own band of supporters-

It’s incredible that when a Government wants to do something genuinely designed to protect us (net-filter) the IT hacks are up in arms crying foul and don’t want to be part of a genuine debate to find a solution yet embrace the tactics of the private sector and hold them up as a model of opening up the world of communication. Well wake up sunshine, the only thing being opened is your wallet…. you just don’t know it.

With the private sector, I’ll probably lose money. With the government, I lose control over my life. Idiot.

According to the BBC, many countries including Germany are planning to take action against the company citing “criminal intent.” The funny part. Google put the data out of reach the moment it realized what had occurred. Now the Germans want access to the private data so that they can take a look at it-

The revelation that Google had collected such data led the German Information Commissioner to demand it handed over a hard-disk so it could examine exactly what it had collected.

This is insane.

Some privacy groups want the US to jump into the fray

The Electronic Privacy Information Center sent a letter last Friday to the Federal Communications Commission, asking for an investigation into Google’s for its collection of user data off its Street View application. In the letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Rotenberg said Google collected any data sent to and from a residential WiFi account, which amounted to a violation of communications laws. Specifically, he said the activity broke federal wiretap laws.

“The Wiretap Act provides for civil liability and criminal penalties against any person who ‘intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept . . .electronic communications,” Rotenberg wrote.

He has complained that regulators and lawmakers haven’t been tough enough on Internet search engines, social networks and publishers for scarfing up user information to monetize into ads.

“It’s time for Congress to hold hearings and for the FCC and FTC to undertake enforcement actions,” Rotenberg said.

This in a country where the former president, and the current one, are in favor of the invasion of the privacy of its citizens, and that granted indemnity to telecom companies that assisted in the program.

All this is interesting because it allows one to measure “power.” Some quotes from the wiki article on Hushmail

Hushmail states that “…That means that there is no guarantee that we will not be compelled, under a court order issued by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, to treat a user named in a court order differently, and compromise that user’s privacy.” and additionally “…If a court order has been issued by the Supreme Court of British Columbia compelling us to reveal the content of your encrypted email, the “attacker” could be Hush Communications, the actual service provider.”

[…]

The privacy policy of Hushmail has been defended by privacy advocate and PGP creator Phil Zimmermann, who sits on the advisory board of Hush Communications. Zimmermann has stated, “Their hearts are in the right place but there are certain kinds of attacks that are beyond the scope of their abilities to thwart. They are not a sovereign state.” Zimmermann suggests that “online encrypted email storage” cannot be expected to provide a defense against a legal process, because government can “compel a service provider to cooperate”.

To cut a long story short, the only reason Google finds itself at the wrong end of the stick is because it is not a “sovereign state.” If it were, it could screw with its citizens’ privacy all the time and the “privacy commissioners” would have no reason to fault its actions. Hypocrites.

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