Google's Sergey Brin: We Screwed Up - InformationWeek

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5/19/2010
07:09 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Google's Sergey Brin: We Screwed Up

Following the keynote presentations on Wednesday at Google IO, the company's annual developer conference, Google hosted several press briefings to delve deeper into some of the announcements of the day.

Following the keynote presentations on Wednesday at Google IO, the company's annual developer conference, Google hosted several press briefings to delve deeper into some of the announcements of the day.At a briefing about Google's forthcoming Chrome Web Store, Google co-founder Sergey Brin offered a startlingly blunt admission about his company's inadvertent WiFi data collection through its Street View cars.

"We screwed up," he said. "I'm not going to make any excuses about it."

That's how you handle a misstep.

For those that missed it, Google last week revealed that a previous statement it had made about the data collected by its Street View cars had been incorrect.

The company had said its data collection had been limited to network names (SSIDs) and router MAC addresses. But last week SVP of engineering Alan Eustace revealed that the company had inadvertently been collecting payload data - the actual content of IP packets set over open WiFi networks.

Brin said that Google is putting more controls into place to make sure the incident isn't repeated. "Trust is very important to us and we're going to do everything we can to preserve that trust," he said.

And you know what? I believe him. While Google has at times been clueless about privacy, as it was with the Buzz launch, I don't get the sense that the company takes its users' concerns for granted.

I trust Google with my data more than I trust Facebook.

Google of course is being pilloried by officials in Europe, but really they should be thanking the company for showing just how easy it is to grab private data out of the air.

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