Google- Taken to Task on Privacy Breach Google has been the topic of several conversations this week, ranging from industry gossip to threats of criminal investigation, regarding their recent privacy breach. This week Sergey Brin admitted that Google’s Street View had accidentally gathered personal information via people’s private Wi-Fi connections. Google has gone out of its way in terms of damage control, insisting that the information will never be released or used by the company. Google also claims that it is working with the government on the best way to dispose of the information. Despite these apologies, Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, stated this week, at the Zeitgeist conference in the UK, that there was “no harm, no foul” in the company’s collection of web activity via people’s Wi-Fi. Schmidt continued on to say, “Who was harmed? Name the person.” Google seems to be alone in their opinion that the data collection was a victimless crime. Two class action suits have already been filed in Oregon and Washington. Representatives Edward Markey and Joe Barton have brought this issue before the Federal Trade Commission, calling into question the legality of Google’s actions. In Germany, France, Spain and Italy criminal investigations are already underway. To read more about the implications of Google’s privacy breach, I would suggest “Privacy and the Internet: The Lives of Others,” an article published in The Economist this month that takes a critical look into the new state of privacy in the era of Facebook and Google. Google Tries to Take The Lead in Their Competition With Apple Google held their annual I/O Conference this week, where they announced their plans to release an Android 2.2 (Android Froyo) for phones with Flash support, Google TV, web-synced apps and music. While in the past, Apple has out paced Google in the synchronization of music, television, mobile and more, Google obviously is trying to make it a two-horse race. As Gizmado reports, “Google, too, has a hunger for domination, but they've finally got vision of their own to accompany it: A vision of cellphones and desktops connected seamlessly—revolutionarily, magically—over the internet; a vision of media that streams when you need it, and disappears when you don't; a vision that sees TV as an extension of the internet, not simply a dumb screen.” Other news from the Google I/O Conference:
- Google provided new details on their Chrome Web Store. Sundar Pichai, the director of product management for Google, revealed some information to reporters regarding the marketplace. According to Pichai, Google’s plan is to have the store launch with support for Chrome/Chrome OS, however rumors have it that Google is in talks with other browsers. Developers will reportedly receive 70% of the revenue from apps.
- Google has been getting friendly with Adobe. At the conference, Google announced a new video format- VP8, which will be supported by Adobe. Another stab at Apple?
- The latest customer reports suggest that 1 in 5 U.S. consumers plan to purchase an iPad, eventually. Almost 3,400 customers were polled by ChangeWave Research, which found that 7% of consumers asked were “very likely” to buy an iPad at some point, and 13% were “somewhat likely.”
- Dell reported their first-quarter results on Thursday, a pleasant 52% improvement over their last quarter. The improvement still pales in comparison with the quarterly results of other leading tech companies, like Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Intel. Analysts suspect that Dell’s profits suffered as a result of limited corporate spending.
- A survey conducted by Sophos revealed that 60% of Facebook members are thinking of quitting the site due to privacy concerns.
- Pennsylvania’s attorney general requested on May 6 that Twitter reveal the identifies of two of its users. A grand jury subpoena ordered Twitter to give up the identifies of “casablancapa” and “bfbarbie” both of whom reportedly criticized the Pennsylvania attorney general, Tom Corbett. A group of advocates is working with the American Civil Liberties Union on the case, claiming “any subpoena seeking to unmask the identity of anonymous critics raises the specter of political retaliation.”