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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.

Thomas Claburn

May 19, 2010

2 Min Read

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.

Application mobilization tools are both more effective and more confusing than ever. To develop this report, InformationWeek Analytics polled nearly 700 business technology professionals and interviewed mobile application experts. Download the report here (registration required).

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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