For the last few years, Google has reigned supreme as the real-world's nearest thing to George Orwell's Big Brother character from 1984.
In the past month, it looked as though upstart Facebook might surpass the former master. First, FB rolled out some creepy new features that shared public profile information with third-party websites. Then, a couple weeks ago, a bug allowed FB users to view their friends' private chat sessions. Translating for the older generation, it was like having your private landline suddenly switched by the phone company to a party line without your knowledge, allowing all of your neighbors to listen in on your conversations.
But this week, Google demonstrated that Facebook is still an amateur when it comes to secretly mining personal data without permission. Google recently admitted that, due to a "programming error," the company "accidentally" gathered -- and stored -- snippets of data from any unsecured WiFi networks in the vicinity while Google operatives were taking "street view" pictures for Google Maps.
Just how much data did the Chinese government mine when it hacked into Google's servers? Also, why did it take three years for Google to notice that it had all that data?
Congress is investigating, so we can look forward to hearings in which computer-illiterate Senators attempt to question the "Don't Be Evil" Empire.