Google, Amazon, and Apple: Tech behemoths behaving badly

Wi-Fi spies, rogue hackers, ICANN buffoons, unethical journalists, and Apple prudes -- it's been a busy few weeks

It's been a wild and woolly time in Cringe City lately. My mailbox has been burning up with readers eager to talk about Google's Wi-Fi surveillance, rogue hackers, ICANN's folly, the death of journalism, and Apple censors gone wild. Here are some of the best.

Hack in the box

In the past two weeks I wrote two posts about cyber justice gone rogue: one about the parking ticket Google received for Wi-spying on thousands of unprotected wireless routers, and another regarding the "throw the book at 'em" punishments doled out to individuals like Matt Keys who are accused of doing far less.

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The Google item inspired a lot of back and forth on whether people have a right to feel their privacy has been violated when their unencrypted Wi-Fi routers are broadcasting data into the atmosphere. Cringester H. M. falls into the camp of "people should know better."

The point you should have been making is that Google wasn't "hacking" to gain all that "private" information...You should be discussing the worrying fact that the many people using Wi-Fi and all the law makers writing laws seem to lack even a basic understanding of radio transmission and what must be done to make radio transmissions even partially secure or private.

Instead of focusing on Google's actions you should have been writing an article about the uselessness of outlawing listening to what is essentially the digital equivalent of Citizen Band radios or CB's.

Except that CB radios are designed for that express purpose. No one installs one unless they intend to communicate with strangers. People install Wi-Fi routers to share Internet access among multiple devices. The fact that these routers also broadcast data is an unfortunate side effect; it's a bug, not a feature. The day when everyone has wireless data sniffers in their cars and on their phones is the day I might agree with that argument. Otherwise, no.

Regarding Matt Keys, who is facing 25 years of hard time for allegedly giving Anonymous access to the L.A. Times website, frequent correspondent T. B. writes:

Whatever happened to the country where parents told their children to not take things that belong to someone else? What happened to personal responsibility and self-discipline? No, I don't think we need remorseful hackers committing suicide or stupid journalist wannabes locked up for 25 years. But I think these kids are a little big for the spanking that someone forgot to give them for taking things that didn't belong to them.

Meanwhile, Cringe fan G. D. says the government should spank them where it really hurts: in the wallet.

I agree the DOJ penalties are completely insane. But I also think we need to kick people who do this kind of stuff squarely in the wallet. I think a judge should determine a fine, within some kind of reason, that's tied back to the cost incurred by the affected party. ...Slap him with the fine, turn the money over to the [victim], and move along. I mean the whole justice thing is about making the punishment fit the crime, right?

Exactly my point. I'm not saying Keys, if guilty, should get off scot-free. But in the relative scheme of things, what he allegedly did is closer to vandalism than grand theft.

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