You can make money without doing evil

Google is famously known for saying you can make money without doing evil. Aside from my belief this statement betrays an unspoken belief that most earning of money is inherently evil, good intentions are not enough.

What were they were thinking?

The authority revealed that as well as collecting SSID information (the
network’s name) and MAC addresses (the number given to Wi-Fi devices such as a
router), Google had also been collecting payload data such as emails or web page
content being viewed.

“The independent audit of the Google system shows that the system used for
the Wi-Fi collection intentionally separated out unencrypted content (payload
data) of communications and systematically wrote this data to hard drives,” said
Simon Davis from Privacy International.

Google said the error came after a piece of experimental code written in 2006
was included in the software used by its Street View cars by mistake.

However, Davis says Google’s explanation “doesn’t add up”.

“This is complex code and it must have been given a budget and been overseen.
Google has asserted that all its projects are rigorously checked,” said
Davies.

“It goes to the heart of a systematic failure of management and of duty of
care.”

I’m not going to say it could never happen at Microsoft but if my experience is any indication it would be a very, very safe bet.

I wrote the original code for an internal application used on Windows Mobile 6.x that has collected millions of SSIDs and BSSIDs (also known as MAC addresses). My officemate wrote the code that gathers the same information on Windows Phone 7. I know what we had to go through in terms of review by peers, lawyers, and management. Privacy was of paramount importance. There was never even a suggestion that connection traffic should be considered “fair game”. The information of the type Google is in trouble for storing on hard drives never even gets into RAM let alone is processed enough to hit persistent storage.

I’m not in a position to say that Google had evil intent but I have trouble imagining what they thought they could do with code that stored information gathered in that way that would not be considered “evil” or at least extremely unethical.

2 thoughts on “You can make money without doing evil

  1. Sarcasm on:

    Isn’t it obvious by now that google is a construct of the CIA or the Iluminati?

    Sheeesh.

  2. Code smode..

    I don’t care what experimental code somebody writes or why the wrote it.

    My question is much simpler:
    Why did they install that module in the mobile units around the world(?) and collate the data from the vehicles?

    Somebody had to decide to outfit these units with the “experimental” code AND to save th resulting data.

    This was NOT an accident.

    With as often as computer users lose data, accidently gathering and saving data is an oxymoronic construction in the english language too far fetched for belief.

Comments are closed.