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Conflict of Interest

What else does Google secretly track? Top 10 questions for privacy investigators to ask

Current privacy investigations of Google deserve to be much more comprehensive than just Google's latest StreetView wardriving scandal, given that:

Spiraling Privacy Scandals Becoming Googlegate?

Google's long-time cavalier approach to privacy and security are catching up to the company as its latest wardriving privacy scandal, appears to be spiraling out of the control of Google's legendary PR machine. 

First, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent Google a tough investigative letter on its wanton wardriving of the U.S. The most problematic question for Google got to the root of Google's privacy scandals: "What is Google's process to ensure that data collection associated with new products and services offered by the company is adequately controlled?" This line of inquiry makes it clear this is not just a probe of this privacy incident, but of Google's systemic weaknesses in internal/management controls concerning privacy.

Google's Wanton WarDriving Scandal: Fallout & Cover-up

Google's wanton "wardriving," i.e. detecting, accessing, and recording residential WiFi networks in 30 countries for over three years, was not simply a "mistake," "inadvertent," or an "accident" as the Google's PR machine has spun it. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming to anyone who bothers to examine it closely. 

  • Google's wanton wardriving was either: gross incompetence/negligence or wrongdoing
    • Government investigators must determine for themselves via subpoena, whether or not anyone at Google, in a supervisory or management position, knew that this private "payload" data was being collected, and whether or not this private data had been accessed, copied, analyzed, or used by Google in any way.

The case for why Google's wanton wardriving is more than just a "mistake."        

I.  Identifying the questionable practice: "Wardriving"

FCC's Dysfunctional Retransmission Rules Harm Consumers

The FCC's retransmission rules now perversely cause consumers to suffer unnecessary collateral damage in retransmission negotiations -- the exact opposite outcome the FCC wants -- in large part because the FCC's retransmission rules have not kept pace with dramatic competitive and technology changes over the last two decades.  

  • The FCC should, and easily can, protect consumers from becoming unnecessary collateral damage in retransmission negotiations by simply updating their nearly twenty-year-old FCC regulations with petitioned common sense modifications that ensure consumers never find themselves unnecessarily in the "bulls-eye" of the FCC's out-dated retransmission rules again.

To better understand how rules that possibly made sense in 1992, could produce predictably perverse and dysfunctional consumer outcomes today, think of the retransmission rules, like a regulatory "gun" that was originally and permanently pointed directly at a 1992 cable monopoly and no one else. 

Exposing Google's Systemic Privacy Vulnerabilities -- Part XXII of Publicacy vs Privacy series

Google's latest privacide admission -- that all of Google's roving StreetView vehicles around the world have been recording some of people's WiFi traffic/web behavior since 2007 -- should prompt privacy officials and the media to ask the simple question: why does Google serially keep having privacy scandals?

Simply Google will continue to have privacy scandals because Google has deep systemic privacy flaws and vulnerabilities -- by design.

  • At core Google philosophically believes in "publicacy" that the world is a better place with more openness/transparency rather than closed systems or private/proprietary information.
  • Thus Google has a publicacy mission, culture, business model, and no serious of effective system of management and internal controls to protect people's privacy.    

1.  Publicacy Mission: Google's infamous publicacy mission is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." It is their mission to collect whatever information they can, where ever they can, whenever they can without regard to whether it is private or proprietary information. As Google's repeated privacy flaps prove, they believe it is more efficient to ask for forgiveness than for permission.   

The Atlantic smooches Google in cover story

Whatever the Atlantic's national correspondent Mr. James Fallows calls his Atlantic cover story: "Google: Inside the company's daring plan to save the news (and itself)," it can't be journalism.

It was one of the most vacuous 12-page puff pieces I have ever read. Like Jeff Jarvis described: "It doesn’t break a single new nugget of news." It was the literary equivalent of a puppy jumping up incessantly to lick the face of the person in closest proximity. 

How ironic is it that a journalist, that made a point of telling the reader that he taught journalism for several years, wrote the functional equivalent of Google PR brochure extolling all the good Google has done for journalism/newspapers -- with no journalistic critical thinking or balance.   

It is hard to fathom that in twelve pages there were:

Title II is no "solid legal foundation" for broadband

A common tactic of net neutrality proponents is to assert their desired outcome repeatedly in hopes that it becomes conventional wisdom. Now the Open Internet Coalition asserts that Title II for broadband would be a "solid legal foundation" for the FCC, while FreePress asserts broadband Title II would provide the FCC a "sounder legal basis" for its broadband agenda. 

  • Fortunately, under the rule-of-law, legal authority simply cannot be asserted or deemed "solid" or "sound" by political acclamation, it ultimately must be proven and affirmed as solid and sound by a full court process (in the absence of Congress passing a new law.)

Surely the FCC understands that the courts ultimately will decide if any legal analysis defending Title II broadband is solid/sound, especially given:

  • The recent D.C. Circuit Comcast decision (which the FCC is not challenging);
  • Broadband has never been classified as Title II; and 
  • The FCC is hardly a disinterested observer in trying to determine the boundaries of its own authority.   

In the Open Internet reply comments, there are many substantive legal analyses strongly indicating that any FCC decision deeming broadband to be Title II would not be on a solid/sound legal foundation. For just three of the most notable analyses see:

Questions for Google on its Latest Act of Privacide -- Part XXI Privacy vs. Publicacy series

Google's latest privacy-killing act of privacide is "Google's roving Street View spycam," which is not only taking pictures, but is also scanning to log WiFi network addresses and unique Media Access Control (Mac)addresses per Andrew Orlowski's excellent scoop at the Register.

Google's Titanic Security Flaws -- "Security is Google's Achilles Heel" Part VIII of Series

Well informed reports (that Google will not deny), that hackers breached Google's most sensitive software code, the Gaia password system, surface titanic security flaws at Google.     

Why Google is too big not to fail. 

1.  "Bigtable" Storage design: How Google stores and accesses "all the world's information" in and from its data centers is: "'Bigtable:' a Distributed Storage System for Structured Data." It is Google's innovation to maximize scalability, speed and cost efficiency -- not security, privacy, or accountability. Simply, Bigtable is an "all eggs in one basket" approach to information storage and access.

Google's Liability Decade: Why Google's leadership ducks investors

The abrupt change, that Google's CEO Eric Schmidt will no longer be accountable to shareholders on Google's earnings calls, should prompt investors to ask why? 

  • Google claimed that they wanted to put more focus on Google's strong financials, but they did not disclose any more than Google's usual barest of minimum of information to investors.  
  • The most obvious reason for this abrupt change is the literal explosion of real franchise liabilities and risk overhangs to Google that reared their ugly heads this past quarter. 
    • Had CEO Schmidt been available to answer investor questions, Google's exploding liabilities could have dominated the Q&A and the investment narrative coming out of the earnings call.

What has changed, and what Google has been not been open about, is the very serious ripening of three different types of going-forward franchise risks (antitrust, privacy/security, and intellectual property) that cumulatively herald a de facto change in Google eras: from the roaring "Growth Decade" of 2000-2009, to the more unpredictable "Liability Decade" of 2010- 2019.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths