Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Police Storm Google Korea's Hideout

How police raided Google's hideout
Police yesterday raided the local headquarters of the foreign search engine, Google, over allegations that the company collected location data of smartphone users without consent, just like the Korean government. Copying the government's data collection policies is illegal under Korean law.

An elite unit from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency's cyber crime unit stormed the anonymous-looking yet heavily fortified building in the affluent Yeoksam-dong area of the garrison district of Gangnam, where intelligence had suggested that Google may be hiding. Several people were said to have been hurt in the raid, including a Korean woman who Google employees tried to use as a human shield. It is believed President Lee Myung-bak watched the raid live from his bunker in the Blue House.

It was not the first attempt to kill Google in Korea. Last August, police trying to secure evidence that the evil company's 'Street View' mapping service gathered private information, stormed a building which it thought Google was occupying using mapping data from a Korean rival to Google, but unfortunately they had the wrong address. But this time, Google was caught by surprise, and police managed to confiscate hard disks and other computer components which it is hoped will bring down the shadowy Google network. In accordance with foreign tradition, Google's disks are likely to be buried at sea within 24 hours.

In recent years, Korea's plan to dominate the global Internet floundered when it was discovered that the online communications network actually extended beyond Korea. Versions of popular portals such as Naver and Daum were hastily launched in the newly discovered foreign markets, but despite the Korean Wave users in those countries strangely proved to be unwilling to learn Korean just to use these superior search engines, which work on Microsoft Windows with IE6 over a recommended minimum 50 megabit connection.

By comparison, Google's search engine requires very little in the way of hardware resources due to its inferiority, and worse, it can run on a variety of different operating systems rather than only one, because it is not pure-blooded. Yet inexplicably, Korean Internet users have been slowly moving over to Google - the company now has a 1-2% share in the Internet search market in Korea, the kind of popularity "which obviously can't be the result of free choice" according to one of its rivals. It is believed that Google is using its Android mobile phone platform to force innocent Koreans to convert to their search engine.

The growth of Google has created concerns at the highest levels of government that one day the majority of Koreans might entrust their data to non-Korean companies - and these companies might not be as willing to hand it over to the government every time someone says something bad about the President's hair, which of course, always looks very nice.

Police also stopped by for coffee at the law abiding Korean rival to Google, Daum, which runs a similar location-related mobile advertising network and which has been wrongly accused of collecting users' data without their consent, although according to the Ministry of Journalism this hardly seems worth mentioning and the media shouldn't really mention it.

Related Links
Police Raid Google Office over Alleged Illegal Info Gathering
Police raid Google Korea on suspicion of illicit data collection
Police raid Google Korea (plus another Korean company)
NHN, Daum accuse Google of antitrust
S. Korea’s press freedom ranking falls

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