Google data flap heats up

John Moe May 27, 2010

Threats are mounting in Germany, Hong Kong, and elsewhere as Google refuses to hand over the so-called “fragmentary data” it collected during Street View patrols. Google says it was data accidentally collected over three years all over the world in an effort to record how many wi-fi hotspots were in a given neighborhood. They say it’s just bits and chunks, unusable, and they didn’t even know they had it until recently. The New York Times has a rundown of some of the traded barbs:

“Google’s refusal to hand over the data will be seen as a declaration of war by European regulators,” said Simon Davies, the director of Privacy International, a London organization representing data protection groups in 40 countries. “This is about sovereignty and a country’s right to determine on its citizens’ behalf what is right and what is wrong.”

Sanctions have been threatened for a while. From a narrow view, this is a tech company goof-up and some political posturing. Taken from a broad view, it really is about what information can be owned by a corporation vs. a government.

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