Google’s German screw-up

Since some have asked — from media and Twitter — here’s my take on Google collecting too much data via its Street View car — not just wi-fi addresses but “payload data” that went over those networks:

Google fucked up.

It’s pretty much as simple as that. And their screw-up sure doesn’t help me when German media come to me asking how I can defend the Google they love to hate. I got a bunch of conspiracy-laden questions from a German reporter this morning: Google says it was a mistake and the reporter asks — not without betraying a considerable bias — “Is that really possible?” I responded: “Yes. Google is not perfect.” The reporter asked: “What will Google do now? Is there a chance to completely recover?” There’s wishful thinking in that question, eh?

Let’s analyze the situation: To what conspiratorial use could Google have possibly put a trace smattering of random data caught in one moment on a given street? I would challenge anyone to take that data and find a business purpose for it. In one second on one street in Hamburg one unknown user read a story on Focus.de. Yeah, so what?

Somebody fucked up. It was sloppy and stupid of them and sure doesn’t help their PR problem in Germany. But I struggle to see how this story shows anything more than that.

Well, it does show one thing: The bias that German media have toward Google. When I was at re:publica in Berlin, I got questions like these from many German reporters: “Isn’t Google too big?” they’d “ask.” Show me the law that defines “too big,” I responded. I contend that German media are merely jealous: Google understood how to make money online better than they did. And they are reflexively running to government to regulate it and can’t find a reason why. So when something like this screwup happens, they get their hopes up.

But this also shows how out of touch German media is with its audience on this point, for the German populace clearly does not mistrust and hate Google the way media do. They use Google more than just about any country on earth, giving Google search a 97.26% share of market. Was gibt? Was geht?

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Search Engine Market Share

  • http://www.cconover.com Christiaan Conover

    I would say this argument is applicable in the US & many other countries as well. Sure, German media is the most vocal when it comes to constant distrust and undermining of Google, but United States media has taken no vow of silence. As you stated, it likely all stems from jealousy that Google has succeeded in making money online far better than the media outlets have been able to.

  • http://medialdigital.de/ Ulrike Langer

    I agree with you on every sentence but the last, which doesn’t make any sense.

    • Martin

      Jeff’s German skills are obviously still very basic … ;)

      • Sascha

        He probably meant: “Was geht ab Alter” in the meaning of “Wer zum Teufel soll das denn bitte verstehen?” ;-)

        @Jeff – Anyway, great article!

  • http://www.gcpctuneup.com John M Fecko

    This poses a question that I’ve had for a long time with Google. They have obscene amounts of information on all of us. Google didn’t need wifi spying to know about that random person that visited Focus.de. They know many more things about that person than just where they live. I for one trust Google to not do evil. This is admittedly a very naive stance, but they haven’t done anything that’s broken that trust. Now, if Facebook were wifi spying, that would be a big problem.

  • Mark Topf

    Ich lebe nun seit guten 30 Jahren in Deutschland und kann diese überspitze Darstellung deutscher Medien einfach nicht nachvollziehen. Artikel nach Artikel wird beschrieben wie sehr die deutschen Medien Google mistrauen! Das entspricht einfach nicht dem Alltag. Meiner Meinung nach ist genau der letzte Absatz die richtige Beobachtung. Die Deutschen im Allgemeinen sind von Google Produkten überzeugt, weil Sie qualitativ das Beste sind was zur Zeit im Netz zu Verfügung steht. Das Medien immer mal wieder kritisch begutachten was Google so mit den gesammelten Daten macht finde ich richtig und wichtig!

    Viele Grüße aus Deutschland,

    Mark

    • armin meiwes

      du hast unrecht. mit “kritisch begutachten” hat das nichts zu tun. jede winzige gelegenheit wird ausgeschlachtet um die kampagne gegen den bösen großen big-brother google zu nähren. natürlich unter großzügiger verdrehung der tatsachen, mangelhaften fachwissen und ohne gesunden menschenverstand.

      • Cosmo Kramer

        Da ist aber Google auch selber schuld. Wenn man überall auf Teufel komm raus mitmischen will, sogar noch nen eigenen Browser auf dem Markt bringt, Mails durchschnüffelt etc., macht man sich halt nicht nur Freunde.

    • Jennifer Schneider

      I think Mark is right.
      German media has a critic attitude toward google, but why not? As if @Jeff says, the german populace loves and uses google. They use it without concern. In my opinion it`s the function of media to have a critic look especially on powerful enterprises, the populace trusts without any concern. It is their job use the freedom of press and try to show every side of google. Mainly because everyone uses and loves it.
      But i have to admit, sometimes they overdo it a bit.
      Regards from Germany
      Jennifer

      • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

        German media speak from a position of conflict of interest: Google is competing with them for ad dollars by offering advertisers a better deal.

  • http://sysnet.co.il/blogs/gilf Gil Freund

    One of the issues with large organizations (both governments and corporations) is that they tend to collect data, simply because they can, with the rationalization that this data may be handy one day.
    What usually happens is that EMC and NetApp and other storage vendors make a nice profit by selling more storage for data no one really knows what to do with, but no one dares erase, since no one remembers why it was recorded in the first place, and because it may be handy one day.

  • Florian Neuer

    Really interesting thoughts…since I am from Germany, I’d like to say one thing that your thoughts point out correctly…
    The German media is suspicious of Google, I mean the German media is suspicious of everything that relates to the secret collection of data…which is fairly alright and conditioned by our history.
    But the German media is not the voice of the German population. Of course, we recognized the predominance of Google with slight distrust but we accepted it and realized that Google is so “big” because it is so “good”.
    There is a check or control function the German media has to fulfill and sure, it was a mistake to collect these data BUT that is all…nothing more. There are a lot of other companies in Germany that did not treat personal information of their customers as they should…so Iask the German media not to condemn Google just because it is bigger than they are.

    • Benjamin Voigt

      I have to disagree to some extent.

      For years now I see many students rejecting Google services (except Search) completely, out of biased, pointed misinformation. And those years are enough to let the first wave of Google opponents loose as young journalists now.

      And when I say misinformed, I truly mean 100% wrong information. Like for instance Google making money by selling your information to their Google Adds partners, so that they can provide you the actual add you see on screen. At least in the Arts it is a commonly found misunderstanding – and one I couldn’t even disprove by showing how Adds work on the advertising side, yet.

      On the other hand these same persons don’t seem to have any problems with posting their whole life on Facebook, StudiVZ (a German FB equivalent), or Twitter.

      I would go as far as calling it a vocal cultural bias within the German student body, which has now transcended into the German media, because a part of these students have completed their studies and are journalists and politicians now.

      • Florian Neuer

        But Google is everywhere and also at universities and I believe extremely popular among students…look at CHROME or GMail or smartphones or google maps…and of course search engine.

        Google is power, I know, and power needs regulation. Just that kind of check that the German media do. And of course, I was confused as I realized that I searched something on Google and on my next visit to Amazon I was introduced to offers to that product i was searching on Google.

        But I believe there are worse cases of dealing with data in a wrong way…Facebook and Studivz, as you already mentioned, are a conglomeration of data and the only difference to the “Google-Gate” is that we decide what we reveal in social networks…Google came to us and took our data and information now, which is a mistake. ( http://www.faz.net/s/Rub4D8A76D29ABA43699D9E59C0413A582C/Doc~EB3A6B55130F74E17AD38ED7F09F1703E~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html )
        BUT Google is not the only search engine or company that did mistakes with personal data…so let’s get back to work and accept an apology…As long as there is nothing “better”, we depend on Google, at least somehow ;-)

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          “…power needs regulation….” There’s an EU attitude.

        • Florian Neuer

          But wouldn’t you agree that too much power without any form of check leads into uncontrollable power? And let’s be honest, too much power has never turned out right.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Which is why I find it odd that Europeans, especially, would turn to government, which has a worse record of too much power and abuse thereof, no?

        • Florian Neuer

          True.
          But I did not say anything about turning to government in such a case. I know that this is the common way in Europe but my personal opinion is that a non-governmental solution is way better. And this non-governmental solution is the media. Although I totally agree that the German media is too suspicious of Google.
          And although a system of checks and balances was somehow an idea that evoked in Europe, the first state to establish this format was the USA…

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          I think it’s the media who have had too much power.

        • Florian Neuer

          Sorry…am confused now. Can’t really follow you anymore…
          Do you mean the German media?
          Just to put it right. I agree with you in almost every case that you mentioned in this entry.

        • Sebastian Manthey

          That and :
          “But this also shows how out of touch German media is with its audience”

          I’m as well from germany (I guess you’ll get some more audience from there because you are linked in the famous “BildBlog”). The Media has way too much power in Germany (in a way of shaping the public opinion in a way which is favourable to them (sometimes not really based on facts)), especially the print media. In addition its out of touch with a part of its audience but they don’t want to admit it.
          They think because of the internet (and also google) their newspapers are dying and they cannot compensate that with making money via the internet because google is already hogging it. Thats why you will always have those reflexes from reporters when google screws up. They look for a weakness to exploit instead of thinking of a way how to bring customers to use their newssites :-s.

          Sure, it wasn’t good from Google to do that but that won’t stop us from using google because there is no “real” alternative. Yahoo is a joke, the old search engines are more or less dead (hotbot, altavista). There are some metasearch engines but in the end it all comes down to google.

          btw, did you knew that “googeln” is a official word in Germanys dictionary, meaning, “searching in the internet”? :)

        • Jens

          Hmm…

          Recently? Not that I could think of major issues, like violating international treaties, Guantanamo, the creation of the Idiot Gestapo( TSA) and so on…

          This said, the problem with Google is not the amount or quality of services rendered, but the enrmousw amont of information collected and cross-referenced without any kind of external control.

          Are there APIs for access to these for intelligence agencies? It would be unthinkable if this wouldn’t be the case. Is personal data sold to corporate entities? Unlikely, as it is way more interesting to sell statistics.

          (“Readers of Jeff Jarvis are 78% more likely than the average Google user to look to purchase expensive red wine online” could influence marketing budgets.)

          Privacy has a certain value to some of us older folks from old Europe.

        • Luigi Boccabella

          Jeff you cannot be serious. Unless you are going to invoke the Holocaust, do you honestly believe people in Europe have worse governmental representation than those in the USA? Are you saying you have no problem with someone standing outside your home and intercepting all of your wireless data? I am truly baffled as to why you are so willing to believe the “honest mistake” defense. Please tell me how 600GB of data accumulated without anyone at Google noticing. I’m sorry, this doesn’t pass the smell test. SOMEONE knew exactly what was being done.

        • Andy Freeman

          > Unless you are going to invoke the Holocaust, do you honestly believe people in Europe have worse governmental representation than those in the USA?

          Why is it unreasonable to invoke the Holocaust?

          On what basis are you claiming that Euros have better govt representation?

          > Please tell me how 600GB of data accumulated without anyone at Google noticing. I’m sorry, this doesn’t pass the smell test. SOMEONE knew exactly what was being done.

          600GB isn’t close to noticeable at Google. Typical disks, which cost less than $100, are over twice as big and Google has hundreds of thousands of servers, maybe even millions, many/most with multiple disks.

          For example, Youtube alone is over 26k Petabytes, or almost 43.7 million times larger than 600 gigabytes. (A petabyte is 1 million times as large as a gigabyte, or almost 1700 times as large as 600 gigabytes.)

        • Andy Freeman

          > But wouldn’t you agree that too much power without any form of check leads into uncontrollable power? And let’s be honest, too much power has never turned out right.

          To which govt are you referring?

          After all, govts have far more power than Google.

          On a related note, if Goldman Sachs is “too big to fail”, what should we do about the Federal Reserve?

        • http://www.madmind.de Gunther

          If it’s in the real world I’d agree immediately. But this is the internet we’re talking about. The next search engine is only one url away. Yes, Google has an immense market share. But this is the result of the users using Google.

          Regarding the fuck up I am pleasantly surprised that Google admitted their error rather soon. So to me that’s not a PR disaster – far from it. They made an error and they openly admitted it. Now they can work on improving so that’s something like that won’t happen again. That’s okay with me.

        • Edgar

          Is it a bad one?? Unregulated power… the mind boggles… (no, I’m not even in the EU).

      • http://www.gebrokenpennen.nl Gijs

        I don’t think Google is more power then it is just a company serving us with tools and such which we are asking, or even demanding.

  • Hans Suter

    In Italy it is the same. And “Was gibt” has no meaning.

  • Mark Topf

    @Florian Neuer, exactly! “Was geht?” instead of “Was gibt” would be possible but fairly profane.

    • Florian Neuer

      Thank you for the support ;-)
      But it is simply a German problem…always mourning and criticizing!

  • Sam

    Google screwed up, Google should apologize, now let’s get back to searching things that are cool, and interesting to us. Go Google.

  • http://sputnik.pl/ Michal Tatarynowicz

    “But this also shows how out of touch German media is with its audience on this point, for the German populace clearly does not mistrust and hate Google the way media do.”

    Couldn’t we say the same thing about US media and Facebook?

  • http://www.antezeta.com/blog/ Sean Carlos

    I wouldn’t say the German media speaks with one voice. In “Google. Der Spion, den wir lieben” (the spy we love), Die Zeit had a cover page article last year which acknowledged a certain willingness to give up information in exchange for excellent web services. http://www.antezeta.com/blog/google-the-spy-we-love

  • http://www.hebig.com heiko hebig

    the only thing that’s “too big” is the german fear of imported and (seemingly) unregulated technology. actually, no, germans do love technology as long as it comes on four wheels and was built to drive fast from A to B on the autobahn. but you have to play by the rules. that’s why we came up with DIN to standardize every bolt, every screw and just about anything you can imagine.

    but doing the unthinkable, going beyond imagination, breaking out of the norms by using the newly gained freedom gained by making smart and unusual use of technology… that’s just outrageous. weil nicht sein kann, was nicht sein darf. (“That which must not, can not be.”)

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Helpful insight, mein Freund.

    • http://www.christianmeyer.net Christian

      I second that. We fear the unregulated, the unknown a lot. There gotta be a law for everything before it’s safe.

  • Jason B

    You are a sock puppet. “Google fucked up,” but look at how well liked they are in Germany. They’re the best in the world, everyone should use them.

    How much do you get paid from Google? Answer the question honestly.

  • http://twitter.com/weirdowisp Weirdo Wisp

    An interesting observation on German media and politicians is that they are very vocal to call Google, Facebook, and almost everything Internet as orwellian Big Brother and great danger. But the censorship, data retention (saving data on who communicated with whom by phone, e-mail, etc. for at least six month, up to two years in some countries), and other data collections by the state or the EU are very seldomly criticised or even mentioned.

  • http://www.gebrokenpennen.nl Gijs

    The Dutchies are also going crazy on this subject, same goes for the Facebook privacy issue though. It seems to me ‘the conspiracy’, which in general is already a very popular item on the internet, was already thought of before Google even had Street View, about Street View… Privacy issues had always been a very sensitive subject in Europe, I don’t know how that is in other parts of the world, but in Europe it really is some sort of ‘sacred ground’. The media seems to make use of that fact now, not only in Google’s Street View case, but also in the case of Facebook and other Dutch websites. Who in my opinion are not as bad as my own government, asking me to have my fingerprint printed on my passport and my body scanned every time I’m planning on taking a plane.
    At your last reaction about the German media, it’s quiet a saying which might be worthy of a thorough research itself. I mean, they are actually very innovative people when it comes to ‘getting a message across’, especially seen their history on propaganda techniques.
    To be honest I’m not all to worried about this issue. I am worried about this ‘theory’ though, that Google might start asking money for all of it’s services, except for their search engine. I’m at this moment still a student and just started my own business, which in some way relies on Google Services like Analytics and Ad-sense. But hey, who knows Google helps me earn my bread with it at some day.

    Like your work!

    Gijs, this dude surfing around on the net from Holland

  • http://keshoo.com/ Otmar Cuerten

    After building a technology publishing company years ago in Germany and now living in California I agree German media tends to over-criticize companies and business people in a negative way.

    This is bad but may be built into German genes. The German word for this is “Häme”. It is the opposite to the American way of “Dont hurt my feelings”.

    The problem with Google is even if you trust them today (the people who run the company now) nobody knows can you trust other people who might run the company tomorrow or who else might gain access to personal data tomorrow.

    Whoever fucked up in this case really destroyed trust. You need to program a computer to collect wi-fi addresses plus “payload data”.

    Someone has done the programing or gave orders to do it. This is definitely wrong. The good thing: Google admitted. This shows they act responsible. It helps regain the trust.

  • http://mostscript.com/sean Sean Upton

    Correct answer to every reporter asking any leading question: is it your agenda to show that it is or isn’t? And if that’s the case, why are you wasting my finite, valuable time?

  • Brian Gillespie

    Brilliant research program Google had. If you’re going to build the fastest browser, or a browser based OS or a mobile OS where speed is of the essence, this is exactly the type of “survey” you would want to conduct.

    Google is obviously working hard to deflect an unfriendly audit of their internal going’s on. If it doesn’t work there will be trouble…

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  • Mikael Suomela

    Doesn’t your post answer your question in it’s last paragraph? Google has a virtual monopoly in the German internet search market. As simple as that. There is no competition in mindshare.

    That said, I do think it is so because Google is the best in that space. I assume that in all of Europe Google is one the most used web services be it search, Youtube etc. European governments regulate stuff, a lot. The more popular a place or a medium is, the more there are voices heard to oversee it by governments. This seems to be more so in Scandinavia and German-speaking countries. Our public spaces are litter-free, neat, clean and ordered.

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  • Elwood Suggins

    I note the concern expressed by the same government and press that supports purchase of stolen data when it suits their purpose. Maybe if Google had captured information of interest to the right government agency in Germany they would have a new source of revenue.

  • josh

    What I would like to know is, why on earth does Google need to collect SSID and MAC data in the first place? What is it hoping to use that information for?

    It becomes especially interesting when other companies, such as Skyhook Wireless, already collect this data. Why not just buy it from them in the first place? Duplicating the work of others isn’t very Googly; haven’t they read WWGD? I’m sure Jeff has sent them all copies.

    Google are being less than transparent in all this and I think governments and privacy organisations are right to query the company on its motives.

    One last thing, it’s a bit rich for Jeff to bemoan the (alleged) anti-Google bias of journalists when he has his own pro-Google bias that colours his view of the world. Why is one bias better than another?

    • Andy Freeman

      > It becomes especially interesting when other companies, such as Skyhook Wireless, already collect this data. Why not just buy it from them in the first place? Duplicating the work of others isn’t very Googly

      It might be more expensive to buy than collect and data that they collect themselves is a good check on data that they buy.

      As to “Googly”, Google makes its own version of lots of things that are seemingly available from elsewhere. In other cases, it specifies/designs Google-specific versions that are assembled by others.

      • josh

        >Google makes its own version of lots of things that are seemingly available from elsewhere.

        Yes, quite. Which always seems odd as Jarvis’ Googly way is to not reinvent the wheel, at least for media. With Google it’s ok to just rip off and replicate.

        But it still leaves the question: what the hell does Google want with SSID and MAC data.

        And it’s not just a “German screw-up”, other governments, including Australia, are looking into the big G’s overenthusiastic collection of data as it trawls the streets photographing people.

      • Andy Freeman

        > But it still leaves the question: what the hell does Google want with SSID and MAC data.

        At this point, Google doesn’t want it, but the German govt does….

      • josh

        >At this point, Google doesn’t want it, but the German govt does….

        So they’ve just been collecting all this data for the heck of it?

        If they had no use for it, why bother collecting it in the first place? Even allowing for the schoolboy excuse they gave for snooping on what people were surfing, you can’t tell me they were just collecting the other data – computer and wireless identities – just for fun.

      • Andy Freeman

        > So they’ve just been collecting all this data for the heck of it?

        I suspect that they collected it because of a combination of “it’s a great hack” and “why not?”

        Regardless of why tGoogle collected this information, that doesn’t explain why the German govt wants it or justify them having it.

        We agree that Google shouldn’t have collected this information and shouldn’t have it. The fact that Google did collect this information does not justify the German govt getting it. That has to be justified on its own.

      • josh

        >Regardless of why Google collected this information, that doesn’t explain why the German govt wants it or justify them having it.

        No, it doesn’t justify Germany having it, but let’s not forget the key issue – the one fanbois like Jeff would like to have us look away from – why was Google collecting the data in the first place and what does it intend to do with that data?

        Once we address that issue, we can decide if Germany – and the other countries where the Big G has been doing this – should have access to the data.

        Of course, in Jeff’s world view, questioning Google at all in any way means you’re biased and not to be trusted.

        In that case, colour me biased.

      • Andy Freeman

        > Once we address that issue, we can decide if Germany – and the other countries where the Big G has been doing this – should have access to the data.

        That’s absurd. There’s no reason to wait to ask why a govt wants that information.

        > Of course, in Jeff’s world view, questioning Google at all in any way means you’re biased and not to be trusted.

        And in your world view, you can’t do anything until after you’ve questioned everything about Google.

        Note that govts having information is potentially far more dangerous than companies, even Google, having the same information. Remember, Google can’t throw you in jail.

        And, even if you think that the two situations are comparable, there’s some uncertainty about whether Google has the information now while we know that the German govt does, so the German govt’s motivations are far more relevant.

        However, we don’t have to answer one question before we can ask the other.

    • Waz (no, not that Waz)

      If I may…

      > Note that govts having information is potentially far more dangerous than companies, even Google, having the same information. Remember, Google can’t throw you in jail.

      It’s no more or less dangerous than a corporation. Governments are accountable to the people and can be thrown out – well, the democratic ones, mostly. Google is accountable to who? Its shareholders? The only way we have of making Google accountable is to question it, publicly. Although, as Josh points out, that seems to get Jeff’s back up.

      > That’s absurd. There’s no reason to wait to ask why a govt wants that information.

      I read the original comment as “let’s not be distracted by people like Jeff saying: ‘Look over there at the German government, pay no attention to the Google man behind the curtain.”

      The German government issue is valid, but let us not be distracted by the fact that it wouldn’t have that information if Google had not collected it first.

      So we must ask: why?

      • Andy Freeman

        >> > Note that govts having information is potentially far more dangerous than companies, even Google, having the same information. Remember, Google can’t throw you in jail.

        > It’s no more or less dangerous than a corporation.

        If you’re going to state that a govt is no more or less dangerous than a corporation, the German govt might not be the best example.

        But seriously – as I pointed out, govts throw people in jail. Govts go out of their way to kill people.

        At worst, corps do the latter by accident. More realistically, the only power that corps have is to refuse to do biz with you. It’s easy to do without Google – most people do.

        So, why do you think that govts are no more dangerous?

        BTW – I’m less accountable than either the German govt or Google. Does that make me more dangerous than both?

  • http://www.thomaskuhn.biz Thomas

    Well, it´s not only Google, wich is presented in the german media, as you said. Often enough it´s the whole internet that´s evil. Told by the media and the government. The problem in Germany is this. We have a splitted society. On one hand, the people who use the internet and on the other hand, the people who don´t. The people who don´t have a loss of understanding of what happened online. It´s so fast, so different and so …big. I think the majority of the german media belongs to the second group – the non-users.

  • Bert

    Isn’t the fact that Google has a market share of 97% in Germany a rather good reason to take a closer look at what this company thus?

  • http://twitter.com/themell phillip

    I too am from Germany and I totally agree that most big newspapers (and TV stations) are constnatly trying to find a “hair in the soup”, as we say. Google is not the only service being portrayed as mostly evil, if you read the news it´s more like the internet as a whole is dangerous.
    The web makes you stupid, they say. Young people can´t concentrate anymore, because of multitasking and -tabbing (yeah, right), the net is full of porn and criminals and so on. And thats mostly where it stops, not a lot information going any further.
    As Thomas pointed out already, our society is kind of split up. Most germans use the internet to buy stuff, check their emails and to surf on msn.
    They don´t understand the power of shared information, but I won´t blame them, as they are being misinformed by most big newspapers and tv-stations.
    The biggest problem, and the reason why most media keep up their senseless bashing, is because our politicians are stupid enough to believe them, and they love to follow the “published” oppinion.
    Sad to say, but I am being ruled by technophobic hippocrits who find it no problem to collect my data on almost every aspect of my life (ELENA, Vorratsdatenspeicherung, SWIFT just to name a few) but cry out like a wounded wolf as soon as something really unimportant happens (like googles mistake). The phrase I have heard most often, when politicians were asked about the internet: “Das Internet darf kein rechtsfreier Raum sein.” (the web can´t be a place with no rules) As if it were…
    Welcome to Germany!

  • Bentrlol

    I am German. Germans love their sausages. Do they trust the butchers? Hell no! Was geht? lol
    But we eat and eat and eat on without seeing a butcher-conspiracy from the secret-meat-society (sms). I think Germans are afraid of Google because it’s an American company. So…
    We’re afraid of Americans
    We’re afraid of the world
    We’re afraid we can’t help it
    We’re afraid we can’t

  • http://thestory.ie Mark Coughlan

    All data is valuable. I’d hardly call it “a smattering” when the Streetview car picked it up.

    • Andy Freeman

      It’s interesting that the German govt’s solution to Google collecting data is to get that data from Google.

      And no, getting the data from Google doesn’t help determine whether Google has come clean or collected other data.

      So, what does the German govt plan to do with this data?

      • anonym

        Looking for some keywords or p2p port numbers so that they can raid the WLAN owners houses.

  • Stan Hogan

    Would would Google do? What would Google do without the ability to cannibalize legitimate news outlets? Perhaps more important, what would Google do without the scrutiny of mainstream media?

  • Luigi Boccabella

    If a group of teenagers had intercepted this data and claimed it was an honest mistake they would be laughed while being hauled off to jail. There are people serving prison sentences in the USA for doing much less than what Google has done here. Why should Google get a free pass?

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  • http://blogdessennamenmansichnichtmerkenkann.wordpress.com ugugu

    agree more or less with @LuigiBoccabella. collecting data for more than tree years needs some aditional explanation. as far as i can see: google has a miserable record handling media relations.

  • http://www.timklimes.de Tim Klimes

    „Conspiracy-laden questions?“ I’m not sure. For the sake of completeness, here the rest of my questions:

    1. Will Google lose it’s image of “Mr Clean” concerning questions of data security? What will be the effect on the users?
    2. What do you think about the official statement, that the collecting of payload data was “quite simply (…) a mistake”? Is that really possible?
    3. What’s the benefit of the collected data for Google? What could have been the reason for them to set-up the software?
    4. Is the reaction “typically german”?

    Yes, Google made a mistake. Yes, Google admitted that it was a mistake. So what? Is that a reason to not talk about it anymore, to not ask questions about the mistake – and the results of it? I don’t think so.

    You insinuate, I wish Google to trip over their „German screw-up“. But: Why should I? I really don’t care. You think, I’m jealous of Google’s success. No, I’m not. I’m jealous of my neighbour, cause he has a bigger car – naturally, I’m a german. But I’m not jealous of Google.

    Jeff, you criticize german media for their bias against Google, but what about your bias against german media? One critical question and you’re talking about jealousy, about conspiracy?

    You write: Germans „use Google more than just about any country on earth, giving Google search a 97.26% share of market.“ Right, and isn’t that reason enough to keep tabs on their business? Isn’t that reason enough to ask questions? Without being suspected of a conspiracy.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Sorry, but as I told you in my email and in the post, I think your questions betrayed bias.

    • josh

      Sorry, Jeff, but where is the bias you allege in Tim’s questions. They’re perfectly reasonable things to ask, unless you think any questioning of Google’s ability and or motives reveals bias.

      In which case, your pro-Google bias is showing.

      And I ask you again, why is your bias better than someone else’s, eh?

  • http://bentrem.sycks.net Ben Tremblay

    A politician says, “I served in Vietnam” and “When I returned from Vietnam”, though he had never served there.
    He says he “mis-spoke”.

    Google says they collected pay-load “my mistake” and it was “an error”.
    My question: did they also store the stuff (for what, 3 years?) also by mistake?

    My interest is this: what makes people think they can play fast and loose with reality? Lying isn’t new … doesn’t interest me.
    What holds my attention is the belief that actions have no entailment. I suspect there’s an over-arching cynicism at play here.

  • critic

    Obviously you don’t get the big picture. “Once bitten, twice shy.”

    The germans have been bitten twice during the last century. Please try to understand that the knowledge about every person was a key for the powerful to suppress the populace because political opponents could easily be ‘removed’. The regimes knew too much about personal data. It is more than naive to think that these data collections won’t be misused.

    Does a Nazi-Regime give you an estimate of what is meant with ‘too big’?

    • Andy Freeman

      > The germans have been bitten twice during the last century.

      Twice? Are you counting the East Germans and their time under the Soviets? (WWI didn’t involve significant political oppression.)

      > Please try to understand that the knowledge about every person was a key for the powerful to suppress the populace because political opponents could easily be ‘removed’. The regimes knew too much about personal data. It is more than naive to think that these data collections won’t be misused.

      That’s relevant to the German govt’s demand for the data. Google isn’t in a position to “remove” anyone.

      Note the (relative) lack of concern over the German govt getting the data.

  • Talleyrand

    Speaking of conspiratorial… where do you get the idea that Google is disliked by the German media? Just because in the USA every tech innovation is welcome by the media without any concerns whatsoever (barring functionality)…. Sorry, it’s not only your understanding of German that is somewhat flimsy, but also your understanding of German and European culture. Anyone running around collecting data is seen suspiciously in Germany because of the potential use of that data. Maygbe you don’t know this, but Germany had a rather difficult history with governments using information for nefarious purposes. Please google “Nazi” and SED and GDR”, for example.

    You really are a condescending fellow, I must admit. The whole world is supposed to swallow Google because it has a cute name, but by invading the Internet as it has — and I have no criticism for G-business, the model seems to work — you have taken up a lot of space for fundamental innovation, perhaps. Just like the gasoline engine proevented any engineering innovation for about 150 years.

    The other point is “What is too big”… well, in market terms, 97 % of the market is a little overbearing. No competition. It should be bad for business. Or it can lead to sheer crap like Microsoft Vista and Windows 7…. which my computer dealer only sells optionally if the customer wants it.

    But I digress… The suspicion is really “Why should Google want to collect data anyway, or scan books…” … Well, theses people question Google, and I think that is correct. The entire tech-business complex has gotten a free ride for decades now, and maybe, just maybe these journalists are not merely interested in how Google is making money, but the political, social and even economic implications of a monolithic position in what has become a must market. Everyone has to be hooked up, otherwise you can hardly earn a living. That is something I would question, too. But while you were reading business manuals, I must have slinked off to the A for Adorno section of the library, and H for Huxley.

  • sroz

    How can anyone who calls themselves a journalist be so dismissive of Google’s FU?! Is this what you teach your students; accept the company line as truth? Or maybe being on the Google payroll has distorted you view of the company. You really should think about teaching PR instead of journalism.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Brave soul spits libel with no identity.

  • Brian G

    “I would challenge anyone to take that data and find a business purpose for it.”
    Let’s pretend for the sake of argument Google is trying to build a browser, a phone OS and a browser based phone OS and they want it to be faster than all their competitors. It would be really helpful to have a snapshot of what people are doing on the web so they can prioritize certain functions in the browser.
    Google already has the info of what people search for and where they go from the search but that only represents a portion of Internet traffic. This just an involuntary survey of web use. It’s nuts to think Google did this accidently.

  • Brian Gillespie

    As more information comes to light, it appears that the data collection was not accidental. Well, well well.

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