p2pnet view Politics | Advertising:- UK information commissioner Christopher Graham (right) says later this month, his department will “impose the first fines on web companies who have invaded the privacy of members of the public”, according to the Telegraph.
Except Google, that is.
“Monetary penalties” could go as high £500,000 and will “act as the benchmark” for the future standards of online data protection, the story has him saying.
Except for Google, that is.
To many campaigners “Graham has been an apologist for the single greatest invasion of British online privacy that has yet been seen”, says the story, continuing >>>
The scandal of Google’s collection of unsecured wifi data while its “Streetview” cars were mapping the UK’s houses will not be forgotten quickly, and Google itself has apologised profusely for “inadvertently” plucking passwords, web addresses and other information from networks without people’s consent.
Most recently, the Office of the Information Commissioner has been criticised for sending “non-technical” staff to meet Google and examine the data that was collected, and then for declaring the company innocent only for it to come out subsequently and say that in fact it had collected more sensitive data than previously thought.
Having cleared Google once, after Canada’s privacy commissioner said Google had indeed collected data, but nonetheless decided to do nothing about it, Britain’s ICO declared there’d been a “significant breach” of the freedom of information act, but decided Google wouldn’t be fined.
Says the Telegraph, “Mr Graham is robust in his own defence: ‘Hang on,’ he says. ‘What is the scale of Google’s offence? The company was collecting information about the position of wifi networks to make their geolocation stuff work’.
“He says that his officials saw data that ‘certainly didn’t amount to a significant cache of personally identifiable information’. And while work done by his fellow regulators around the world uncovered risks that more information had been monitored, Mr Graham suggests that ‘in order to make a fine stick in front of the finest lawyers in the world I would have had to have shown that there was serious distress and damage caused to individuals whose personal information was captured after I was given powers to levy increased fines in April.’ He says that such an endeavour would have meant his office stopping work on all other projects – ‘You can’t run a regulator on the basis of looking at everything – you’ve got to secure wins where you can. I’m certainly not going to stop every other thing that we’re doing to look for the killer needle in a haystack’.”
But as a regulator, “he now has their permission to look at their files, whether they like it or not”, says the post, quoting him as adding:
“When people say you’ve done absolutely nothing, I say you’re not paying attention. We’ve done a lot – we’ve achieved a lot. Getting Google to accept that that ICO has a right to audit their compliance with the UK data protection act is a huge achievement that the ICO ought to get some credit for.”
Way to go.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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