Google is gathering your personal and corporate data.
Google Inc. (GOOG) motto is, “do no harm.” But who defines what is harmful? Employees recently testified to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission that they didn’t initially know that their mapping-service project software was gather personal data, even though an undisclosed engineer told a few fellow workers. The software would access payload data like e-mails, text messages, passwords, internet-usage, and other highly sensitive personal information. The FCC ended up not penalizing Google for data gathering, but assessed a $25,000 fine for not cooperating with the FCC during the initial inquiry. The fine would not even be considered a slap on the wrist.
This is another example of how the technology companies who are responsible for the security of their products get off scott free. Whereas, the businesses who buy and use these products to run their companies are targeted by the FTC and congress with huge fines and laws for exposing private information. According to OpenSecrets.org, Google contributed $814,540 to Obama’s election. Gawker.com claims Larry Page and Eric Schmidt donated $25,000 each for Obama’s swearing-in party. Bloomberg disclosed that Google hired 12 lobbying firms after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission began a review of its business practices. Finally, the National Journal reports that Google hired the former Rep. Susan Molinari, R-N.Y. to head Google’s Washington office. With the average per-inncident cost to a company in 2010 for a privacy data breach being $7.2 million, one has to wonder where’s the justice.
I am posting this story as a warning to companies looking to upload all their confidential data into cloud storage or using cloud services. Can you really trust that the supplier is not able to access your information? By law, if a cloud supplier gets hacked and your customer’s personal information is exposed, you may still be liable for all the damage. Companies need to follow the same guidelines that I tell individuals using social networks; “If you want the whole world to know what you are doing for the rest of your life, then go ahead and post your info on Facebook. Otherwise, it may be better to keep it to yourself.”