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NLPC Exposes Alleged Home of Top Google Executive

     
2:56 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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In a move to highlight security concerns over Google Street View and Google Earth, the NLPC (National Legal and Policy Center) wanted to show just how much information is available.

NLPC Exposes Alleged Home of Top Google [nlpc.org]Executive

To demonstrate his point, the National Legal and Policy Center today released a document demonstrating the threat to personal privacy posed by Google and Google products. Simply using Google Street View and Google Earth, the Center compiled a startlingly comprehensive amount of personal information on a top Google executive in less than 30 minutes, including the license plates of cars outside the executive’s home, the landscaping company the executive uses and even the name of the next door neighbor’s home security company.

Earlier stories
Google Accused of Hypocrisy on Privacy [webmasterworld.com]

Google's UK Street View Gets Clearance, With Safeguards [webmasterworld.com]

[edited by: engine at 4:33 pm (utc) on Aug. 4, 2008]

3:04 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Wow. Good find.

The .pdf is really revealing.

3:29 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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That does seem quite worrying, those Google featured used together do indeed seem to create a "stalker's tool kit".
3:38 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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DRTA but...

including the license plates of cars outside the executive’s home, the landscaping company the executive uses and even the name of the next door neighbor’s home security company.

How is this a threat to privacy? These are all things you would be able to see if you were standing on the road outside the house, which last I heard is not illegal.

3:42 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I've been concerned about the streetview from the beginning. Especially when you look at houses and you see small children playing in the yard. I don't like that when you look at my folk's house you can see my mom and my 4 year old daughter playing in the front yard, the best way to approach the house, the best way out of the neighborhood, etc. Same thing at my house. Makes me glad I have guns and tactical training.

Wonder if a big NOINDEX NOCACHE sign in the front yard would work :)

3:42 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Quite true, Murdoch, but to stand on the road outside someone's house requires far more time, effort, and expense than running a few Google searches. In addition, you might well be observed hanging around someone's driveway and be hassled by the residents and/or police.

In short, Google makes everything faster, easier, cheaper, and without the need for physical presence.

3:44 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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>>a big NOINDEX NOCACHE sign

I'd put it right next to the "Caution - Explosives" and "Beware of Dangerous Dog" signs.

3:47 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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That is quality Engine! I wonder what Google's next privacy statement will be? :)
3:48 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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those Google featured used together do indeed seem to create a "stalker's tool kit".


I really think the genie's out of the bottle on this. Whether it's Google today or someone/something else tomorrow, it's time to adjust to a world where the only privacy is behind closed doors.
3:50 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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How is this a threat to privacy? These are all things you would be able to see if you were standing on the road outside the house, which last I heard is not illegal.

It's a lot harder to raise the suspicion of the security guard drinking a pop from the comfort of your living room than it is to drive into the the cul-de-sac and take pictures. It's easier for Google to do that for you. Plus, you can get all the info you need about the layout of the neighborhood from the air. That's a lot easier than it is to do the ground recon needed if you are serious about causing problems for someone. Especially in an exclusive neighborhood where you can't see everything on the other side of the fence. Google Earth gives you a great view of the bushes, pool houses, paths, etc.

It's a stalker's dream. Wonder how long it'll be until some celeb is murdered or has a kid swiped based on info gathered from Google mapping products.

3:51 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This is one of those times when I've though that Google should be requiring some kind of yearly subscription to use services like this, that way it makes everything a lot more trackable. Just think of the money they could get and use to increase the coverage of Street View while at the same time increasing security by getting CC information.

I understand the downside of these types of services when used by the wrong people, but isn't that the case for a lot of things?

I've used Street View on a number of occasions to verify what a location looks like so I know what to look for when driving down the street.

3:53 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google Streetview gave me dated images of the front of a home only after NLPC gave me the private street address of a family that is worth billions of dollars. In this case I am more worried about NLPC exposing private information than of Google providing information that is already available to anyone willing to go for a walk.

I do not agree with Google and I have grave concerns about privacy but I do not feel good about NLPC releasing the private street address of a family that is a valid target for kidnapping, attacks etc.

4:53 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It's a stalker's dream. Wonder how long it'll be until some celeb is murdered or has a kid swiped based on info gathered from Google mapping products.

Another is national security. Google has been banned from US military installations.

The US defence department has banned the giant internet search engine Google from filming inside and making detailed studies of US military bases.

British military bases in Iraq have been "blotted" out from Google Earth maps at the request of the Government to hinder terrorist attacks, it can be revealed....

As revealed in The Daily Telegraph last week, an insurgent arrested by British troops in Basra was found with a Google Earth map of the Shatt Al Arab base, home for 1,000 soldiers.

[news.bbc.co.uk...]

5:06 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'll put up a robots.txt for my address
5:31 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The US defense department has banned the giant internet search engine Google from filming inside and making detailed studies of US military bases.

Still doesn't stop them from putting pics on Google Earth. It's pretty easy to find Area 51 on the map :)

[edited by: SEOMike at 5:32 pm (utc) on Aug. 4, 2008]

5:55 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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You can find virtually all that information using the phone book and standing outside someone's home on the sidewalk, which as someone else mentioned, isn't illegal. And Google Earth isn't the only satellite image viewer around (Microsoft Terra Server, to name one).

Having your phone number listed in the phone book, and your address showing with your number, is far and away a bigger privacy and stalking issue than having Google take a photo of your street for Street View.

This was a pretty silly stunt by NLPC that accomplishes nothing more than anyone else who knows somebody's address can do by standing on the street with a camera.

6:04 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'd put it right next to the "Caution - Explosives" and "Beware of Dangerous Dog" signs.

"Warning: Toxic Waste" with a bio-hazard icon seems to work pretty well.
6:18 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yes, but "standing on the street with a camera" doesn't arouse suspicion.

The point is a would-be bad guy can do all the surveillance needed without every leaving his computer. He doesn't have to physically "case the joint".

I'm pretty sure the security guards would have an issue with someone standing outside the house jotting down notes and taking a photograph. Gonna be much harder to notice that same person jotting down notes, etc. when they are doing it from their own home.

6:29 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Makes me glad I have guns and tactical training.

Same here!

There are other ways to acquire private info for free out there besides Google.

6:42 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The three amigos that sit atop Google should roll out new services like LifeLock. Here is all the stuff you can do with Google to see what people are doing and here are our private, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th homes from all angles at a street view. See, there is nothing that could happen to us as a result of our technologies and data so you have nothing to worry about.
6:51 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Though I try not to make analogies often, I'm going to try this one on you.

Years ago, I had to go into my bank in order to withdraw money, check my balance, get my statement, etc. Today, I can just flip on my monitor and get all that done in a minute. Of course, that also means that phishers, hackers and other scammers can also more easily get into my account and cause me headaches, but does that mean I'm going to drop online banking altogether and stop using my debit card? Of course not.

Now I realize that you don't have the same choice with Google Street, but similar services exist that will get you the same information that Street does. Background checks, area maps, DMV records, trash cans (which are public domain), etc. Private investigators operate within the law, and unfortunately if stalkers want to operate within the law they can too.

Just because a service can be used for evil doesn't mean I'm going to start doing evil because it's there. And just because this service exists doesn't make it any more likely that a person will commit a crime. If a person, especially someone mentally unstable like a stalker wants to commit a crime, they will regardless of Google Street. And if they didn't have Google Street, they've got a lot of other options.

Just my .02

6:59 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Bottom line what is the value of Google's spyware to begin with? Is it something you can't do without? Other than news crews snooping into somebody's life, just plain snoopy people, criminals, and terrorists what overwhelming value or any value does it have? It seems it has its greatest value to foreign terrorists.
7:43 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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What I don’t like in this case is the fact that some people may be just poking around with Google Street View and Google Earth and get some nasty ideas while using it. Would that be about their neighbor, ex-wife, ex-boss, cousin, or whoever/whatever, that is always opened.
The bottom of this is that if there was no such thing (such close views of people’s surrounding), some bad stuff could be prevented by simply not being initiated at all at the first place.
8:19 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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And, let's not forget about NASA's "World Wind", GE is not the only viewer.
10:18 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Anybody notice how the NLPC didn't quite obscure the entries it thought sensitive? The underlying text is still selectable. Didn't one of our vaunted national security agencies do this same thing a few years ago?
10:25 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Bottom line what is the value of Google's spyware to begin with? Is it something you can't do without?

I've posted before about its value. Especially with more people bicycling to work, it allows you to preview the ridability of streets before trying them out in person. There have been a number of times that I decided against (or for) going a particular route after getting a preview of what the road is like. (The same red line on a 2-D map may be a quiet 2-lane road with bike lanes in both directions or a 4-lane road with no shoulder but lots of traffic.

Did I survive without it before it came around? Sure. Could I survive without it? Sure. But I'd rather survive with it.

11:16 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Years ago, I had to go into my bank in order to withdraw money, check my balance, get my statement, etc. Today, I can just flip on my monitor and get all that done in a minute. Of course, that also means that phishers, hackers and other scammers can also more easily get into my account and cause me headaches, but does that mean I'm going to drop online banking altogether and stop using my debit card? Of course not.

I feel the same way, every new invention can be misused by evil-doers, this just seems to be one of them. And you know what? Somehow I don't really care that I don't have "tactical" training or that I don't have a ninja friend.

1:34 am on Aug 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Wonder if a big NOINDEX NOCACHE sign in the front yard would work

write a poem on a sign in the yard. copyright it.

google won't store copyrighted work on its servers without permission, right?

problem solved.

ha

8:47 am on Aug 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Bottom line what is the value of Google's spyware to begin with? Is it something you can't do without?

The purpose is to spy of course. Companies can use Google maps and Google Street View to check supicous orders for example. So if the paint on the front of your house does look too shabby don't be surprised if you don't get a delivery.

9:23 am on Aug 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm waiting for the first terrorist conspiracy trial where the fact that Street View had been accessed is brought in evidence.
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