Thursday, October 28, 2010
Google: Too big to jail?
by Larry Geller
At the same time Google’s Streetview camera cars were roaming your neighborhood shooting pics of homes and storefronts, they were also “wiretapping” into wi-fi data and collecting it.
Canada, Italy and other countries have taken this spying very seriously and criminal investigations are underway, but the US Federal Trade Commission has told Google it is dropping its inquiry.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that justice may be giving way to political money. It wouldn’t be the first time (how many BP executives, for example, are behind bars?).:
"Why the Obama FTC gave Google a free pass in this regard is beyond me. They should have continued the investigation to see if this incident is connected to a larger pattern on data collection," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, noting that President Barack Obama attended a fundraiser at the Palo Alto home of Google executive Marissa Mayer last week.
"Our fear is that Google gets special treatment. The president is raising money from top Google officials," Chester said. "Google is a Democratic darling in many ways. Google needs to be investigated, and not given a free pass." [San Jose Mercury News, FTC closes Google privacy inquiry, 10/27/2010]
Although the paper reports that "Google has made assurances to the FTC that the company has not used and will not use any of the payload data in any Google product or service, now or in the future," nowhere does it assure us that Google will not keep or make use of the data itself.
The US Supreme Court gave corporations the right of free speech, which they can exercise by making campaign contributions. When they speak out with big bucks, it seems they earn immunity from criminal prosecution.
It’s just another nail in the coffin of American democracy.