Did Korean Officials Really Need To Raid Google Offices Over Street View WiFi Sniffing?

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

It's been a few months since Google admitted that its Street View vehicles were collecting some data from open WiFi networks. Those familiar with the basic technology involved have explained why this was almost certainly an accident, and there's no evidence whatsoever that anything was even done with the data. However, there have been a whole bunch of lawsuits filed, and it's difficult to find a government that hasn't said they'd investigate the issue.

To date, it seems that Google has bent over backwards to work with every government investigating this issue, no matter how varied their requests were on the matter. So far, the UK's investigation has found that the WiFi sniffing didn't appear to collect any sensitive data, though others are still investigating. More recently, Google agreed to allow Germans to opt-out of Street View.

Given Google's clear willingness to help out, it seems a bit odd that South Korean officials -- many months after the news of this came out -- suddenly decided to raid Google's Korean offices over this matter:
A police statement said they suspected Google has been collecting and storing data on "unspecified internet users from wi-fi networks"
Brilliant police work there, guys. It only took you three months to "suspect" what Google admitted in May.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Ima Fish (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:41am

    "Did Korean Officials Really Need To Raid Google Offices..."

    All we really need to do is eat, breathe, and die. Everything else we do, e.g., sex, facebook, and raid offices, we do purely for fun.

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:51am

      Re:

      "Everything else we do, e.g., sex, facebook, and raid offices, we do purely for fun."

      The logical question being, of course, how can we combine those nominal activities to compound the funness? For instance, could Korean LEOs standing-doggystyle their way into the Google offices to conduct their raid while updating their Facebook posts?

       

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        :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:07am

        Re: Re:

        Well, that's why delegation was invented. You have one guy paid to update your facebook profile with the live doggystyle footage (being shot by another guy) of you raiding the Google offices!
        Also, for the sake of completeness there should be a shark in there somewhere...

         

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          Berenerd (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:20am

          Re: Re: Re:

          with fricken lasers on their heads?

           

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            Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            And when they bust down the door and the lasers begin shooting amidst Korean from-behind-sex and social media alerts, the Google receptionist should scream, "MOM! Where's the meatloaf??!!", but not in Korean, OR English. I think German would be perfect, for comedic value....

             

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:32am

    Yes, they *did* need to.

    The more Google is investigated, the better. Corporations don't have rights in the first place, they're mere legal fictions, and all history shows that corporations need constant close scrutiny. As a corporation, Google must *prove* itself innocent, it doesn't have nor merit the assumption that a "natural" person does. You assert "there's no evidence whatsoever" while objecting to try and gather any such.

    Why do you stand up for a mega-corporation that can defend itself?

     

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      martyburns (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:37am

      Re: Yes, they *did* need to.

      I think the point was that a raid was unnecessary. Usually you raid someone to gain the element of surprise.

       

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        Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:43am

        Re: Re: Yes, they *did* need to.

        "Usually you raid someone to gain the element of surprise."

        No, no, no. That's the Spanish Inquisition. THEY'RE chief element is surprise....

         

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        interval (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:45am

        Re: Re: Yes, they *did* need to.

        @martyburns: "I think the point was that a raid was unnecessary. Usually you raid someone to gain the element of surprise."

        Yes. Its as though the cops bashed down the door while the proprietors were opening the door for the cops.

         

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      interval (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:42am

      Re: Yes, they *did* need to.

      You're overreacting. You seem to be of the mindset that a corporation is by definition evil, and I don't find that to be necessarily true. I think you should keep in mind that corps employ hundreds, even thousands, of people, and its mostly in corps that economically uplifting innovations happen. Corporations in fact do have some rights, not the same as living person, but still. Your automatic disregard for the welfare of a corporation is misguided. I suppose you believe it'd be best if the state employed everyone? That's been a real success story everywhere its been tried...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:59am

      Re: Yes, they *did* need to.

      he more Google is investigated, the better. Corporations don't have rights in the first place, they're mere legal fictions, and all history shows that corporations need constant close scrutiny. As a corporation, Google must *prove* itself innocent, it doesn't have nor merit the assumption that a "natural" person does. You assert "there's no evidence whatsoever" while objecting to try and gather any such.

      Why do you stand up for a mega-corporation that can defend itself?

      Hmmmm, actually last time I checked the definition of a Corporation was an entity of it's own with limited inherent rights. Corporations are created as an entity on behalf of the people creating it to shell liability and operate as a singular "person" separate from the multitudes involved in creating and operating it.

      Regardless of that, I agree corporation needs more oversight, but Google isn't my biggest concern. The corporations that I see committing the biggest violations of trust and rights are the cities, counties, and states. For instance the cities exploiting safety laws to fill budget shortfalls, to violate individual rights, and to exploit private information they have collected.

      If you think these other companies selling your email address or anonymous browsing data are bad, just wait until this spending orgy causes local government corporations to need to start "monetizing" their data.

       

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      ftfy, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 6:58pm

      Re: Yes, they *did* need to.

      The more corporations are investigated, the better. Corporations don't have rights in the first place, they're mere legal fictions, and all history shows that corporations need constant close scrutiny. As a corporation, they must *prove* itself innocent, it doesn't have nor merit the assumption that a "natural" person does. You assert "there's no evidence whatsoever" while objecting to try and gather any such.

       

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    Jay (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    All I could think...

    ZERG RUSH!!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:50am

    This is normal procedure in Korea. No one there makes a big deal out of it, only we do.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 11:06am

      Re: "Normal Procedure in Korea"

      Having lived in Korea, I can say that Korean politicians and government bureaucrats can grandstand in front of the media with the best of them. Prosecutors like to see themselves on the evening news. No one makes a big deal about it because the public is cynical about government. One can reasonably assume there, just like lots of places nearer to home, that one of the principal figures in the investigation is preparing to run for office.

       

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    EEJ (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 9:21am

    Not using the data?

    I just got an Ipod touch, and turned it on at a restaurant to see if I could find an open wifi network to access my email. The only wifi hotspot available was protected by security, so I couldn't connect. A few minutes later, the person I was eating with asked about something nearby, so I fired up a map application which asked to use my location information. Since I didn't have a wifi connection, I didn't think much about it.

    Sure enough, it placed me on the map within 150 feet of my actual location...Is it possible the google maps software recognized the locked down wifi as a location point?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 9:52am

     

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    Google Street View, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 10:25am

    Privacy...

    Can't wait to see some privacy invasions show up here: http://www.streetviewfunny.com

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    I can't wait until Google buys some land and declares itself the first company-state. Then this would be an act of war...raiding a foreign nations embassy like that...

     

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    Jimr (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    Having lived in Korea as a foreigner I came to the cynical belief that everything was for sale and every one could be bribed. Especially corrupt officials routinely came sniffing around the foreign offices and gave the clear impression that an 'offering' was required.

    I can only assume Google did not pay the required 'offerings' to the right officials.

     

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    WICLAW from Korea, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 2:51am

    Necessary but Ineffective

    The process was duly made under due process of law. Gathering private communication information without internet user's consent is a crime, even though Google has admitted it and said sorry. In Korea, any person in violation of this shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or by suspension of qualification for not more than 5 years. That is why I think no one can say "the raid is unnecessary". The police must investigate the suspect. However, I also think the police's raid is ineffective, because Google's server is not located at Seoul. The Korean police missed this point.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 3:17am

      Re: Necessary but Ineffective

      The process was duly made under due process of law. Gathering private communication information without internet user's consent is a crime, even though Google has admitted it and said sorry

      Um. Well, this wasn't private info because it was broadcast publicly.

      That is why I think no one can say "the raid is unnecessary". The police must investigate the suspect.

      There are ways to investigate that don't require a raid. That's the point. Every other gov't has simply asked for the info and Google turned it over.

       

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        WICLAW from Korea, Aug 14th, 2010 @ 11:03pm

        Re: Re: Necessary but Ineffective

        "Um. Well, this wasn't private info because it was broadcast publicly"

        Yes It is private info. If it is not, it couldn't become such an issue. Only broadcasted is "Google Korea gathered a private into", not exactly what info and to what extent.

        "There are ways to investigate that don't require a raid. That's the point. Every other gov't has simply asked for the info and Google turned it over."

        I agree with you there are many other investigation methods considered. But no one can't say if the Google says X, X is always true. I think Korean investigating authority and also the court which issued the warrant are focusing on the possibility for Google Korea to hide the information they gathered or not to disclose all the info they gathered. The authority cannot entirely rely on nor trust the suspect's statement. That's why I said the raid is not unnecessary in the view of the authority. But as Google has no server in Korea, the raid was ineffective I guess. Of course someone can say, that's why the raid is unnecessary. If you're saying this point. Yes, you are right. I think the Korean authority missed this point or even didn't trust Google Korea's explanation 'we don't have a server in Korea' until they confirm it by means of a raid.

         

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