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The Week We Searched For- May 21, 2010

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 [1] 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” [2] in the company’s collection of web activity via people’s Wi-Fi. Schmidt continued on to say, “Who was harmed? Name the person.” [2] Google seems to be alone in their opinion that the data collection was a victimless [3] crime. Two class action suits have already been filed in Oregon and Washington. Representatives Edward Markey and Joe Barton [4] 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,” [5] 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) [6] for phones with Flash support, Google TV [7], 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.” [6] Other news from the  Google I/O Conference: Bits 1 in 5 U.S. Conumsers Plan to Buy an iPad Dell Posts 52% Increase in Profit Facebook Privacy Concerns, Leading Users to Quit? Twitter Fights Subpoena