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omgwtf, you searched me!

June 28, 2006

Story here.

In summary, a school district is suing Google because Google.. uhh.. googled them.  The demographic information for 620 students was “accidently” posted to their public internet site and Google efficiently (and automatically) gobbled it up within hours–along with the rest of the site’s content.

The temporary injunction, granted by the Honorable Richard D. Boner, calls for Google to remove any information pertaining to Catawba County Schools Board of Education from its server and index and alleges conversion and trespass against the corporation.

So, is this a lack of due dilligence on the part of the school district in regards to FERPA or should Google’s automated systems “know” the content they are consuming and we hold Google liable for the publically-available information it consumes (heh, how’s that for a leading statement…)?

I wonder, if it’s due dilligence, then how is this different than accidently misplacing these records in a coffee shop and someone picking them up?  Should the person who returned the documents be sued for potentially looking at them?  The diner? 

Also, something to consider:

The information was stored in the system’s DocuShare server, which required a username and password to access, Ray said. […] “In Google’s effort to get information on her, one of its spiders latched onto her name in this document. We were not aware that password-protected sites are set up like that. To our knowledge, Google could only cache unsecure information that did not require a password or username.”

The above mentioned, Ray, is the district’s CTO and apparently doesn’t understand that publishing flat files to the web, apparently outside of DocuShare, is unsecured and public.  I’m curious why their document management system is even AVAILABLE outside.  Heh, joy.

In any case, it’s unfortunate that no one is able to communicate Google’s point of view to the parents and community.  On the bright side, reading the story comments from educators and IT professionals around the world, it’s nice to know that hope isn’t lost.

Best part of the story–could you imagine your name being “The Honorable Richard D. Boner”?  Hi, I’m Dick Boner, nice to meet you!  What are parents thinking and how much does his therapy cost?

Categories: Education, Insanity!
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