Google goorilla

When you’re a  heavyweight online advertising goorilla,you can get away with anything by  making promises  you have no intention of keeping  and using your muscle  to persuade federal  ‘protection’agencies  around the world  that  your  many and various schemes  exist only for the betterment  of everyone, everywhere.

One of Gargle’s most pernicious scams  (sorry, ‘services’ ) involves  employing  purpose-designed  company snoopmobiles  to  snap pictures  of people  and their houses  anywhere and everywhere  and using them without permission  of the owners.

And that includes ignoring polite requests,  initially, and then demands, to cease and desist not only from ordinary people, but also from entire nations.

Google, or the Great Satan of Mountain View, as Britain’s The Register calls it, touts its Street View surfer advertising hook as a ’service’.

Gargle SnoopMobiles with panoramic cameras mounted on the top tour the streets of the world taking pictures of houses and scenes without bothering to ask if that’s okay with the owners, or the people in them.

In the process, they often get snaps of faces, licence plates on cars, and all kinds of other information and material which should be totally private.

These Gargoyle Snoop-O-Rama pictures are then published millions of times around the world  for everyone with an online account to see.

The company claims its obfuscation techniques effectively prevent most EIEs (embarrassing identification events).

But surely ‘all’ is the only acceptable criterion.

Failure to live up to its claims

Switzerland  Is a  among the throng of complainants. It says Gargle`s pictures violate privacy laws, by failing to obscure people`s identities.

Google promised to sort  that  out but, Switzerland`s head of federal data protection has told Google that his country is still not sufficiently blurry on the Great Satan of Mountain View`s Street View service, despite the company agreeing to further obscure faces and number plates, said The Register, publishing Street View pictures of clearly identifiable vehicle licence plates.

Nowhere is anonymity more highly prized or religiously guarded than in Switzerland, home to the world’s most secretive institutions.

But ironically, there are few places where examples of Google’s failure to live up to its claims of identity protection are more glaringly obvious.

In a p2pnet post on the Swiss story, I  ran a picture of an elderly gentleman lifted from a Street Vew scene in Berne.

Shouldn’t be too tough to identify him, I thought.

Then frequent  my friend Marc  decided  over in Québec to look a little further and  while he was surfing, he came across site listing Swiss abortion clinics whose clients include teens aged 16 and under.

Any chance of these showing up on Google? – he wondered.

But of course.

This is, after all, Google Street View.

But,  “Google Failed to Delete All Unauthorized Street View Data,”  is the headline to  a  PC Magazine story  which goes on,  “The saga over Google’s collection of unencrypted data with its Street View cars continued today, with the search giant admitting to U.K. officials that it failed to delete all collected information.”

However,  “Google apologizes for the error,” PC mag has Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel,  saying in a Friday letter to Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The data was supposed to have been deleted in December, 2010. Google discovered the error during the “comprehensive manual review” of its Street View disk inventory it has been conducting in recent months.

“In conducting that review, we have determined that we continue to have payload data from the U.K. and other countries. We are in the process of notifying the relevant authorities in those countries,” Fleischer wrote.

Other countries include the U.K., Ireland, France, Austria, and Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland  and (what a surprise;) Switzerland, .

According to the story, Fleischer said Google wants to delete the data it has uncovered, but asked the ICO for its guidance on how to proceed. “We are prepared to arrange for you to review this data, or to destroy it,” he wrote.

In a statement, the ICO said it has instructed Google to “supply the data to the ICO immediately, so that we can subject it to forensic analysis before deciding on the necessary course of action.”

“The ICO is clear that this information should never have been collected in the first place and the company’s failure to secure its deletion as promised is cause for concern,” the ICO continued.

In a p2pnet post on the Swiss story, I  ran a picture of an elderly gentleman lifted from a Street Vew scene in Berne.

Shouldn’t be too tough to identify him, I thought.

Then frequent p2pnet poster Marc   (who also told me  about  the PC mag  item) decided to look a little further and  while he was surfing, he came across site listing Swiss abortion clinics whose clients include teens aged 16 and under.

Any chance of these showing up on Google? – he wondered.

But of course.

This is, after all, Google Street View.

And no matter which side of the abortion fence you happen to be sitting, the last thing you want is to have your face or vehicle licence number splashed across the World Wide Web.

Below is a montage of 32 miniaturised pix clipped from Google Street View and even at these very considerably reduced sizes, some of the people might still be recognizable.

But full size, even though some of the faces are blurred, they’d still easily be recognizable to anyone who knew them. And there’d be no trouble at all with the licence plates or locations.

To be safe, we’ve done Google’s job for it,obscuring the faces in red.

(Click the pic  to enlarge it.)

You’re welcome, Gargle.