17 May 2010

Google - "accidental data collection"

Google issued a giant mea culpa for "accidentally" collecting data about websites people were visiting.

Politely Balderdash....

Last time I checked - collecting data of any sort requires a conscious decision. There was no accident about the process. A Google engineer (inhouse or contractor) designed the system to collect data. The supervisor reviewed the code. The hardware for the storage of data had to be purchased and approved. The device had to be set up to collect data. The data had to be stored somewhere. So data was collected in 30 markets.... I think you get my point. I don't think by any stretch of the imagination you could call the collection of data "accidental".

Now the question is will Google take any advantage of the meta data (ie data about data) that it collected. Will it also notify all those people it collected data from that it did just that - collected data of a private nature.

These are questions that will fuel the fire of Google's practices. For some time - Google's practices have worried me. I don’t want to slam them for everything that they do but I think we should all be on the look out to ensure that this sort of thing does not occur again. Google as the world's largest data touch point service has more information on each of us that it can correlate together, than anyone else. What it knows about us is pretty scary. Combining that with travel pattern information would give it power that no other supplier in the travel vertical has ever had. The potential for misuse of data - actively or accidentally just boggles the mind.


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