Getting to know your neighbors better used to involve a lot of legwork: heading next door for dinner, chatting over the fence, signing up for the Neighborhood watch, et cetera. The times, they are a-changin', though, and a new study commissioned by Britain's Information Commissioner's Office suggests that these days, all you have to do to understand your fellow man is buy a used hard drive. Almost half of all used hard drives tested by the organization still contained information from their previous owners.
It believes that the similar nature of claims is a solid ground for such consolidation: "All of the complaints in the Google Wi-Fi Cases assert claims under the federal Wiretap Act. Some cases involve other, similar claims, including state law claims subject to preemption arguments under federal law. All of the complaints make very similar factual allegations, and thus any necessary discovery will be of common facts.”
Even a company of a pleasant disposition like Google can become a touch nettlesome when its rivals are busy playing a high-stakes game of musical chairs, where the winner gets to be the world's leading tech company – Apple snatched the honor from Microsoft on Wednesday. Probably feeling left out and dejected, the company even missed a key deadline yesterday. The German authorities had asked it to hand over the unauthorized Wi-Fi data it had collected during an image-collection campaign for its Street View service. But the internet giant let the deadline pass.
It was kind enough to offer a clarification, though: “As granting access to payload data creates legal challenges in Germany, which we need to review, we are continuing to discuss the appropriate legal and logistical process for making the data available.” This excuse appears untenable given the fact that Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg data protection supervisor, claims to have been assured by the state prosecutor, Lutz von Selle, that the requested data will not be used to compound Google's legal problems.
However, Google's failure to comply with the request has actually compounded its problems, as it has given rise to a criminal investigation against it. The company also enraged regulators in Hong Kong by missing a Monday deadline for furnishing similar data collected in that neck of the woods.
The ruckus began when Google fessed up to “inadvertently” collecting 600 gigabytes of “fragmentary data” from open Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries, and offered to destroy the data instead of making it available for scrutiny. Although data protection watchdogs in Australia, Ireland and Denmark gave the nod for the data to be destroyed, most countries have requested that it be preserved for the sake of possible legal action in the matter.