Google Has Been Snooping on Your Wireless Network
May 19, 2010 by Post Team
Google Has Been Snooping on Your Wireless Network:Facebook Google right now to send a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates, because the search / advertising giant has committed a violation of privacy that makes Facebook’s recent problems seem trivial.
The skinny: Google has been sucking the data from the open WiFi networks around the world – worth some 600 concerts, according to the AP – which is equivalent to eavesdropping and so may violate federal and international laws.
Now that I have your attention, here is some background.
When Google sends its fleet of cars fitted with cameras to the street to take photos of his neighborhood for its Street View product, these cars are also getting something a bit more: The name and MAC address unique to each open WiFi network that are along the way.
Google has been doing this for years. So have other companies like Skyhook. Why? Because Skyhook and use this information to locate mobile users when the GPS and cell towers are available (because you’re inside) or inaccurate (since the towers are widely dispersed).
That’s how this works. The units are on the GSV, snapping pix and collection of the MAC addresses of each open WiFi router is then coincide with the directions to the GPS coordinates. When you open your WiFi and GPS enabled device for it, for example, tell you where the nearest cash machine is also can scan for MAC addresses local, compared with those stored in the Google database, figure out your latitude and longitude based on GPS coordinates captured by the van, and give you a more accurate reading of where you are.
(I may have gotten some technical details wrong in the previous paragraph – I’m not a geek, I just play one on TV – but that’s my understanding of how this works.)
That alone is problematic. On the one hand, a network ID may contain personally identifiable information, such as your name, or something silly, but potentially embarrassing, as my “Suck neighbors.” (It gives a great lewd than that, FYI.) By the way, if you have not secured their WiFi network with a secure password, now would be a good time to do so. I’ll wait.
Google is defending the same children use the school playground: the other children were doing well. The problem with that argument? These other companies are not Google. Do not have a fraction of a percent of the other data Google has. It’s like comparing a team of little league baseball to the Yankees in New York.
Still, it gets much worse.
This is something that no one – including apparently most of the people of Google – knew until last week. In addition to the SSID and MAC address, Google WiFi antennas also diverting unencrypted data passing through wireless routers and out on the Interwebs. That could include email, passwords, Facebook or Twitter status updates, Web sites visited – actually, not just protected by SSL encryption (https:) connection.
Apparently a bug in the software Google has been using since 2007 automatically collected any data. Google itself was still not aware of this data collection (and more recently, on April 27, strongly denied it.) Google only found this out after the Data Protection Authority in Hannover, Germany, called Google WiFi auditing your data.
Since then, Google has admitted that the leg, bad. He stopped collecting this data and eliminate begun under the leadership of the various countries where data were collected. And it will introduce a search option encrypted next week.
I guess you could call an honest mistake. But the accidental abuse of data can be as harmful as intentional. If a giant step on you because it is evil, or you accidentally trips and lands on his head, the result remains the same. You end up crushed.
Think of it this way. If, for example, Obama administration found that sending trucks down the streets to photograph every home and catch your WiFi information would have Tea Parties in the streets. Glenn Beck would make an example of this month. Sarah Palin presidential campaign would build on top of it. It would be ENORMOUS. The administration will probably never recover.
Of course, Google is not the government. But in terms of volume of information it has on ordinary citizens, is pretty darn close. Somehow, Google knows more about you than Uncle Sam. And there are many fewer rules restrict what can be done with that information.
All these data WiFi seems that a large amount of information collected for a marginal benefit. It is time for Google to go on a diet serious data – from today. For if not, eventually something really catastrophic will happen to all this data – our data – Google so that without thinking up empty.
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