Police raid Google's South Korean HQ over Streetview data

August 10, 2010: 8:55 AM ET

Another country loses it over Streetview data.

Image Credit: Telegraph.co.uk

Korean Googlers today received an unexpected visit in the form of a raid by police this morning.  The cops were after that Steetview data that Google had admitted to erroneously collecting many months ago and any information they could find related to its spying on Korean citizens.

"(The police) have been investigating Google (GOOG) Korea LLC on suspicion of unauthorized collection and storage of data on unspecified Internet users from Wi-Fi networks," the Korean National Police Agency said in a statement.

Google has gone on record saying, "We will cooperate with the investigation and answer any questions they have."

I don't get it.

I understand what happened with Google's Streetview cars and their collection of Wifi data.  Google has been as transparent as I could expect following the incident.

The authorities in Hong Kong and the UK have already looked at the data collected and ruled that Google's explanation was acceptable and more importantly, none of their citizen's privacy had been breached.  No formal investigations will be filed there.  Austria, for the most part, has done the same, stipulating that Google has to inform the government about any big projects for the next three years.

From what I understand, a single engineer submitted code that told the Streetview cars to collect data.  The data is actually just packets of information that were streaming across open Wifi access points as Google's cars zipped by.  Anyone could (and still can!) collect this data.

When Google found out, they voluntarily offered up this information and are cooperating with governments on how to distribute or destroy what they've found.  They haven't even seen the data in most, if not all cases.

I hate to say it, but I'd almost rather Google have the Streetview data than my government.  And I (probably mistakenly) view the US Government as one of the more trustworthy governments out there.

So why the media frenzy?  It is a good story that feeds the big brother paranoia.  Google has a lot of information on all of us and we're all worried that Google will use this in unscrupulous ways at some point.  This isn't it.

The US states, fueled by the media, seem to want to waste taxpayer money chasing after some demon that doesn't exist.

I'm not playing along anymore.  Sure, there will always be class action lawsuits sponsored by lawyers who want to get rich quick.  But, where my money is concerned, stop wasting it on Streetview.

If you want to chase after Google, spend the money where it will do some good.  This Verizon Net Neutrality deal has much broader implications on our future than some erroneous data collected by Steetview cars.

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About This Author
Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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