1.What's going on?
2.What are the facts?
3.What are the issues (non-ethical)?
4.Who is affected?
5.What are the ethical issues and their implications?
6.What can be done about it?
7.What are the options?
8.Which option is the best and why?
1.Google is being accused of privacy breaching. It has admitted the blunder of collected private data from UK’s internet users for 19 months. However not just UK , Google has been accused of similar breach in 19 other countries (Halliday, 2013 ).They have collected such information from the open Wi-Fi networks of Street View cars. Goggle has admitted this as unintentional human error. Google’s competitor consultant Scott Cleland has said as Google prioritizes innovation over everything and does not believe in seeking permission while implementing them (Streitfeld, 2013).
Information Commissioner’s Office has stated that this data absorbing by Google is Goggle signed the undertaking in 2010 (Ico.org.uk, 2017). ICO is going to investigate this case now and could fine the company a large amount, if found guilty. The ICO believes that Google should have never had collected the data even more serious concern is that they failed to identify their error. Privacy Director of Big Brother watch Nick Pickles said that Google took advantage of people and showed little respect to their privacy (Gayle, 2013). He also raised the issue that the commission should not have allowed Google to delete the information.
2.From 2008 to 2012, Google gathered Wi-Fi data from business and residential access points all over the world. The large amount header data and pay load data were collected. The pay load mainly consists of personal information like mails, visited websites and passwords. In order to establish the access point the data needed to be collected. Header data is capable of identifying Wi-Fi device information and SSID, MAC. This MAC is a special numerical identifier and SSID is distinguisher of different access points (Burdon & McKillop, 2013)..
In 2010, German authority of data protection raised question about Google’s street view implementation. This exposed that Google actually gathered data from their process of photographic collection. Google said that they were doing something similar to Skyhook (Wigle.net, 2017). They claimed that public could access the data they collected and individual data could not be identified, so privacy protection law could not be applied. However the European data privacy protection authorities announced that Google actually used unencrypted networks for collecting payload data.
UK’s ‘Data Protection Act of 1998’, Canada’s ‘PIPEDA of 2000’ and Dutch ‘DPA’ were also breached according to the respective authorities (Chow, 2013). Federal Communications Commission of USA investigated the breach of ‘Wiretap Act’ and fined the company 25000 dollars (Vaughan-Nichols 2012). However the privacy commissioner of Hong Kong stated that the collected information is unable to identify any individual so it is not breaching privacy.
3.Google collected unencrypted data from open Wi-Fi access points. The data included private information which is a great breach of privacy. Goggle is a giant internet based technologically advanced company. So, their claim of not realizing the technological fault cannot be considered. They have accused the engineers of doing the mistakes. However the engineers on the other hand, accused the concerned managements of lying. The engineers claimed that they had warned the author. The privacy authorities of Germany, Poland, Canada and many others are accusing Google for collecting private and confidential data which is serious breach of the countries’ privacy protection law. They have filed cases against the company and some have initiated investigation against it.
4.Common consumers were affected. It raised problems in privacy worries. The investigators found out that the payload data collected by Google revealed almost everything about their internet activities. Extremely personal information like people’s marital infidelity, sexual preferences, business confidential or medical history was included there. It is reported that escort services, drug suppliers and scam artists utilized this opportunity. Goggle claimed that this was a ‘rogue engineer’ defect. The company stated that during the information collection they accidentally collected the pay load data from Wi-Fi networks. Google accused engineers for the intrusion. According to the company, the engineers implemented such strategy where instead of just detecting the information it started collecting data. However the investigators found out that the engineers informed the managers about the flaw in the system.
The management and designer team of Google, who designed the Street View Program and implemented it without proper evaluation, got affected as well. Their work ethics and technological knowledge have been questioned. This controversy has affected Google’s business. The existing stakeholders got affected and the future stakeholders got influenced. Various legal authorities have successfully raised the issue and investigating. However they are struggling to rove the acquisitions as not much relevant information or example of such kind is available. The marketing companies and the line producers also face problems in local area businesses.
5.The ethical misconduct in the Wi-Fi networks use is a gray area. Few consumers access the Wi-Fi networks as an act of enthusiasm and there are some hackers who use Wi-Fi networks for criminal activities. Google’s practice of collecting data from open Wi-Fi networks from the street’s street view cars can be considered as an ethical misconduct (Stair & Reynolds, 2013).
Through illegal scanning of Wi-Fi Google collected personal data like web history, mails or passwords, which brings up the ethical issues regarding use of wireless internet. When someone involves in an unencrypted network, the agreement acts as indirect? .
6.The company should immediately start evaluating the whole of the program. They must identify the problems for its design to implementation. The company must hire talented and neutral technicians who will find out the problem and suggest possible solution for the future projects. The company should not have deleted the data so as they claimed. They have admitted their fault however a detailed public apology is needed. The company must release all data to the concerned public, who should be given the authority to decide the value of the data. Google must not sell or share the data to any other third party. The knowledge and skills of the engineers must be evaluated. The company should develop a program where public or privacy protection authorities would be able to review it before they start gathering information.
7.Analyzing the case and the complications, it can be said that many options can be adapted in order to protect or resolve the issues. Google stated that they have stored the data on different hard drives which are not connected to other networks. This way they ensured the locking and privacy of the information. Google has asked a nongovernmental investigator to investigate the faults in the Wi-Fi networks. They believe the investigation give proper evaluation of what happened. They are also responsible for deleting all the acquired data. There should be a management committee primarily focusing on a particular project from its conception to implementation. Every step should be monitored properly in order to avoid any potential threats. Latest technologies should be adapted and new programs will be developed if it is necessary in certain situations
8.Google should not have involved in collecting data packets from open Wi-Fi networks. Google is technologically advanced company, so they must design and apply such technologies which will determine the faults and protect the programs from collecting unencrypted data. If the data collecting is uncontrollable or unavoidable it must include a review application in the program. The application will allow the public and privacy authorities to review the program and take necessary precautions before they gather information. Also this developed program will not only be utilized by the company, but it can be used by other companies as well in similar problematic scenario.
Burdon, M., & Mckillop, A. L. I. S. S. A. (2013). The Google street view Wi-Fi scandal and its repercussions for privacy regulation.
Chow, R. (2013). Why-Spy: An Analysis of Privacy and Geolocation in the Wake of the 2010 Google Wi-Spy Controversy. Rutgers Computer & Tech. LJ, 39, 56.
Gayle, D. (2013). Privacy outrage after it emerges Google is sharing Android users' names, emails and Addresses with app developers. Dailymail. Retrieved from
Halliday, J. (2013). Google faces new Street View data controversy. The Guardian. Retrieved from
Royal Free - Google DeepMind trial failed to comply with data protection law. (2017). Ico.org.uk. Retrieved 9 August 2017, from
Skyhook Wireless - WiGLE.net. Wigle.net. (2017). Retrieved 9 August 2017, from
Stair, R., & Reynolds, G. (2013). Principles of information systems. Cengage Learning.
Streitfeld, D. (2013). Google Concedes That Drive-By Prying Violated Privacy. New York Times. Retrieved from
Vaughan-Nichols, S. (2012). Google may be able to legally listen in to your Wi-Fi networking. ZdNet. Retrieved 9 August 2017, from