Posts Tagged ‘Broadband

11
Aug
10

Google Street View throws light on web privacy

NEWS
Google Street View throws light on web privacy

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Google’s online map feature has become a flash point for people worried about the erosion of privacy in the Internet Age.

Street View images at Google Maps sparked controversy from the outset of the project three years ago.

Google dispatched cars and tricycles rigged with cameras and satellite positioning gear to take pictures of what one might see on streets around the world and synched the images to its free online mapping service.

Some people complained that faces could be recognised in pictures, raising the potential that people caught in compromising situations, perhaps stepping out of an adult video store, would have such moments memorialised online.

Others expressed fears that numbers from licence plates could be used to figure out who parks or lives on certain streets.

People were soon accusing Street View vehicles of straying onto private roads or yards to snap pictures in violation of the California-based internet giant’s policies.

Google adapted to ameliorate concerns. It began blurring faces and car licence plate numbers in images.

This year the Street View controversy rocketed to a new level with the revelation by Google that electronics in its picture-taking vehicles captured data from wireless internet systems not secured by passwords.

Google basically had access to unencrypted email, video downloads, web browsing or other digital information passing through wireless routers in homes or businesses as its Street View vans went by, said John Verdi, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

Google has apologised repeatedly for what it called an accidental data grab, but authorities in more than a dozen countries are investigating whether the company broke privacy laws.

South Korean police on Tuesday searched the offices of Google Korea as part of its probe, an officer said.

Police seized computer hard discs and other material. After analysing the material they plan to summon the company’s staff for questioning.

Efforts by governments to get the Street View data threaten to multiply damage to people’s privacy even if Google is true to its word that it has done nothing with the information.

‘Simply handing over the data to governments can be a very bad idea,’ said Electronic Frontier Foundation international rights director Katitza Rodriguez.

‘In some cases, the remedy can be worse than the disease.’

Countries could use the pretext of investigating Street View to mine Google data in ways that ‘might create risky situations for human rights activists, dissidents, or bloggers fighting for their rights,’ she added.

Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle theorised that Google might have intended to map locations of open wireless ‘hot spots’ as a potential service to users.

‘Telling people where they can get on the internet for free while they are out and about sounds to me like a typical Google thing to do,’ Enderle said. ‘It wouldn’t surprise me.’

Identity thieves might view a roster of open wireless zones the way burglars might look at a list of homes left unlocked, according to the analyst.

Google said it would allow Germans to block out their homes on Street View ahead of its launch in the country this year but privacy watchdogs were still not happy.

‘Google Street View is a great tool, for instance, for tourists to scope out the location that he or she wants to visit,’ Rodriguez said.

‘However, Google’s technology is too invasive, and goes too far. We expect some degree of anonymity while we are walking on the streets.’
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
Share

Advertisements
28
Jun
10

Gov’t plans to double available wireless spectrum

NEWS
Gov’t plans to double available wireless spectrum

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Obama administration says it intends to nearly double the available amount of wireless communications spectrum over the next 10 years in an effort to keep up with the ever-growing demand for high-speed video and data transmission to cell phones, laptops and other mobile devices.

The White House said President Barack Obama will sign a presidential memorandum on Monday committing the federal government to auctioning off 500 megahertz of federal and commercial spectrum.

Revenue from the auctions would be spent on public safety, infrastructure investments and deficit reduction.

National Economic Council director Lawrence H Summers will explain the new policy in a speech on Monday at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.

In an excerpt released by the White House, Summers said, ‘This initiative will catalyse private sector investment, contribute to economic growth and help to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.’

The administration said it hopes to encourage the spread of wireless broadband across the country, including rural areas.

The auction is intended, in part, to counter fears of a potential ‘spectrum crunch’ as smart phones and laptop computers become more popular and new wireless devices hit the market.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
Share

22
Jun
10

U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

NEWS
U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

U.K. Police Investigating Alleged Google Privacy Breach Through Public Wi-Fi Networks

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Britain has become the latest country to open an investigation into whether Google violated communication and privacy laws by mistakenly gathering data over public Wi-Fi networks.

London’s Metropolitan Police says it is looking into complaints that the search engine’s ‘Street View’ project picked up people’s online activities through unprotected networks.

It says it is determining what offences, if any, were committed.

Privacy International, a London-based privacy watchdog that filed the case with police, says it had received complaints from members of the public who feared their personal data could be at risk.

The French independent privacy watchdog CNIL said last week that Google, following a complaint, had handed over personal data sucked up by its technicians.

The attorney general of the U.S. state of Connecticut is also looking into whether Google broke the law.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multi-state probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy.”

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
Share

22
Jun
10

U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

NEWS
U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• The attorney general of a U.S. state is looking into whether Google broke the law by capturing people’s personal data from wireless networks.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multistate probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy,” which has drawn ire and scrutiny in an array of countries.

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.

Blumenthal said people had a right to know what information Google gleaned, how it was done and why.

He also wanted the internet giant to detail what safeguards are in place to fix the situation.

“While we hope Google will continue to cooperate, its response so far raises as many questions as it answers,” Blumenthal said.

“Our investigation will consider whether laws may have been broken and whether changes to state and federal statutes may be necessary.”

Blumenthal has asked Google to explain how and when it learned its Street View bicycles and cars were capturing data from unencrypted wireless networks and why they recorded the quality of wireless networks they passed.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
Share

15
May
10

Google Data Admission Angers Europe

NEWS
Google Data Admission Angers Europe

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Germany’s Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner has sharply criticized Google for inadvertently collecting personal data.

“According to the information available to us so far, Google has for years penetrated private networks, apparently illegally,” Aigner said in a statement on Saturday.

The “alarming incident” showed that Google still lacks understanding for the need for privacy, according to the statement.

Privacy breach

Google’s fleet of Street View cars, photographing streets for its online map program, has been collecting more data than previously thought. After reviewing a system in the cars that recorded names and addresses of wireless networks detected along the routes, Google revealed that a programming error had led to small amounts of personal data to be collected from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

“It’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open Wi-Fi networks,” Google’s head of engineering Alan Eustace said in a blog posting.

The blog post did not specify what kinds of personal data had been collected but indicated it could be things such as email and web browsing history. However, since the data had been collected by moving vehicles, only fragments of information were recorded. Google regretted its mistake and would look for a way to destroy the personal data.

“Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do, and in this case we fell short,” said Eustace in the blog post.

Google reviewed its data collection methods in response to an inquiry from the Data Protection Authority in Hamburg.

The Google Street View service allows users to “walk” along panoramic street views in many countries, using images recorded by specially-outfitted cars. The fleet of cars around the world has been halted for the time being as Google attempts to fix the glitch.

The Street View project is controversial in Germany due to privacy concerns.
• Source(s): Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and Google Inc.
Share

07
Apr
10

Federal court curbs FCC authority on Web traffic

NEWS
Federal court curbs FCC authority on Web traffic

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to force Internet service providers to keep their networks open to all forms of content, throwing into doubt the agency’s status as the government guardian of the Web.
The FCC has long sought to impose rules requiring Internet providers to offer equal access to all Web sites, a concept known as network neutrality. But in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that the agency lacked the power to stop cable giant Comcast from limiting traffic to a popular file-sharing site called BitTorrent.

While the Comcast case centered on the issue of network neutrality, the court’s ruling could hamper other agency initiatives, including an ambitious plan to expand high-speed Internet service nationwide and enforce new rules that hold carriers to promises of certain speeds for consumers.

The decision could spur the FCC or Congress to rewrite rules or laws to more concretely make the agency a regulator of Internet services.

The agency had intentionally kept its authority over broadband services vague, in hopes of spurring growth by keeping the market for Internet services largely deregulated. A reversal of that framework — which consumer groups have urged — would be strongly opposed by companies that operate Internet networks.

“Comcast swung an ax at the FCC to protest the BitTorrent order and they sliced right through the FCC’s arm and plunged the ax into their own back,” said Ben Scott, police director for public interest group Free Press.
The FCC’s predicament stems from Comcast’s challenge of sanctions the FCC issued against it in 2008.

In a 3-2 vote, the agency found that Comcast had violated open-Internet guidelines by slowing traffic to the BitTorrent file-sharing site. Those guidelines were meant to force broadband providers to treat all traffic equally on their networks, so as not to put any application at a disadvantage.

Comcast appealed the FCC sanction, saying the agency’s order was outside its scope. The court on Tuesday agreed.

Sena Fitzmaurice, a Comcast spokeswoman, said the company was “gratified” by the decision.

“Our primary goal was always to clear our name and reputation,” she said.

As a practical matter, the court ruling will not have any immediate impact on Internet users because Comcast and other large Internet providers are not currently restricting specific types of Web content and have no plans to do so.

The decision came as Comcast is pursuing agency approval of its proposed $30 billion merger with NBC Universal.

The cable giant has opposed FCC efforts to impose rules requiring that Internet providers offer equal access to all Web sites. The company argues, as it did in the BitTorrent case, that it needs to be able to limit some users from activities that could slow network operation for many customers, such as downloading massive movie files.

But in hearings on the merger, some lawmakers have said net neutrality rules would ensure that the combined company would not unfairly use its weight against competing Web sites.

Other companies such as Google and Facebook have supported government efforts to push net neutrality. Tuesday’s ruling may encourage the FCC to respond with what Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett calls the “nuclear option” — moving broadband providers into the same category as phone providers, which would subject them to many more rules.

That “would have sweeping implications far, far beyond net neutrality … and would bring back a raft of regulatory obligations from the days of monopoly telecommunications regulation,” Moffett said.

The decision puts in doubt dozens of policies the FCC hopes to roll out as part of the national broadband plan it released last month. It may complicate some reallocation of $8 billion in phone subsidies to build new broadband networks and hinder creation of a wireless public safety network for first responders, public advocacy groups say.

The FCC did not say specifically how it plans to respond to the court’s decision. Agency spokeswoman Jen Howard said it was important that the FCC’s broadband agenda rest on a “solid legal foundation.”

Michael Copps, a Democratic FCC commissioner, said in a statement: “It is time we stop doing the ‘ancillary authority’ dance and instead rely on the statute Congress gave us to stand on solid legal ground in safeguarding the benefits of the Internet for American consumers.”
• Source(s): Federal Communications Commission and Cisco Systems, Inc.

Share

26
Mar
10

Google says 1,100 communities are vying for its broadband network

NEWS
Google says 1,100 communities are vying for its broadband network

Friday, March 26, 2010

••• More than 1,100 communities across (and more than 194,000 responses from individuals) the United States have expressed their interests to be the test sites of Google Inc.’s ultra high-speed broadband networks, the U.S. Internet company said on Friday.

Google announced in February that it plans to test broadband networks in one or more trial locations in the United States, claiming that the networks will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans are using today.

The company has set March 26 as the deadline for local governments in the country to submit information on their interests to join the Google network trials and about existing facilities and resources in their communities.

Over 1,100 communities have responded by Friday morning, hours before the submission deadline, according to Google.

The enthusiasm by local governments to bring ultra high-speed broadband networks to their communities clearly showed that ” people across the country are hungry for better and faster Internet access,” Google noted in a blog posting.

“We’ve seen cities rename themselves, great YouTube videos, public rallies and hundreds of grassroots Facebook groups come to life, all with the goal of bringing ultra high-speed broadband to their communities,” Google said.

And that proved Google’s point: That Americans are clamoring for faster Internet access.

Antics to draw Google’s attention included the mayor of Duluth, Minn., who jumped into the icy waters of Lake Superior, and the mayor of Topeka, Kan., who renamed the city Google for the month of March. Rancho Cucamonga even got a Web makeover as Rancho Googlemonga. Closer to Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, folks in Palo Alto boogied to the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” in front of City Hall.

“We’re not going to be able to build in every interested community,” said Google, which plans to reach up to 500,000 people with the experiment. “Wherever we decide to build, we hope to learn lessons that will help improve Internet access everywhere. After all, you shouldn’t have to jump into frozen lakes and shark tanks to get ultra high-speed broadband.”

The company said it will announce target community or communities of the network trials by the end of the year.




Calendar

September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3 other followers

© Copyright 2010 Dominic Stoughton. All Rights reserved.

Dominic Stoughton's Blog