Revealed! Google Kept the Data! Um, Some of it ... By Accident
By Ken Magill
If there’s anything dumber than privacy zealots, it has to be government privacy zealots.
Steve Eckersley, the head of enforcement for the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office, received a letter from Google last week in which the company said it found during an internal audit it had failed to delete some Street View data it had agreed to destroy in 2010.
“[W]e have determined that we continue to have payload data from the UK and other countries,” the letter said. “We are in the process of notifying the relevant authorities in those countries.
“Google would now like to delete the remaining UK data, but would like your instructions on how to proceed,” the letter said.
In a rational world—you know, the one that doesn’t exist—Eckersley would have picked up the phone, dialed the letter’s author and said: “Just delete it, you twit.”
But instead, the ICO published the letter on its website along with a statement demanding Google hand over the data for “forensic analysis.”
“In their letter to the ICO today, Google indicated that they wanted to delete the remaining data and asked for the ICO’s instructions on how to proceed. Our response, which has already been issued, makes clear that Google must supply the data to the ICO immediately, so that we can subject it to forensic analysis before deciding on the necessary course of action,” the ICO’s statement said.
What necessary course of action could there possibly be other than to delete it as agreed? Maybe delete the data while having their asses fanned with wooden paddles and yelling: “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
Everyone reading this repeat after me: “Why are we working so hard when we could be making a decent buck and benefits devoting our time to stupid crap like this?”
Think of the irony: Some of this data may be sensitive information such as people’s passwords, emails and who knows what else. In an Orwellian twist on the concept of privacy protection, rather than telling Google to really delete the data this time, the ICO wants it transferred there so its bureaucrats can comb through it.
What can possibly go wrong?
That Google even sent the letter rather than quietly deleting the data indicates it’s acting in good faith.
That the ICO published the letter means it is not.
According to an AP report: “Other regulators were less diplomatic [than the ICO], with Ireland's deputy commissioner for data protection, Gary Davis, calling Google's failure ‘clearly unacceptable.’ Davis said his organization had conveyed its ‘deep unhappiness’ to Google and wants answers by Wednesday.”
Okay, so it’s Tuesday and as Google’s unauthorized spokesman, I’d like to provide an answer in time for Davis’s deadline: Someone made an innocent mistake, you preening jackass. So would you let Google delete the data once and for all and go about its business making the Internet a better place for all of us?