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Google Street View logging MAC Addresses - And Sniffing Data
Reno




msg:4121510
 12:12 am on Apr 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

We often raise the privacy issue on this forum and we often hear some members say they are not concerned, after all, "everybody is doing it". Well, it's getting worse, not better:

Google Street View logs WiFi networks, Mac addresses

Google's...Street View service is under fire in Germany for scanning private WLAN networks, and recording users' unique Mac (Media Access Control) addresses, as the car trundles along.

Germany's Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar says he's "horrified" by the discovery.

"I am appalled… I call upon Google to delete previously unlawfully collected personal data on the wireless network immediately and stop the rides for Street View"....

Read Full Story [theregister.co.uk]


[bits.blogs.nytimes.com...]


... Google is now saying, in a late-night-Friday European-time confession that is sure to infuriate regulators and privacy advocates, that its previous claims were wrong.

Mr. Eustace wrote that a review of Street View software has revealed that due to a programming error in 2006, the company has indeed been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from non-password protected Wi-Fi networks in Europe, in the United States and other major regions around the world.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 1:13 pm (utc) on May 15, 2010]
[edit reason] added ny times link [/edit]

 

geekie




msg:4121538
 1:59 am on Apr 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

And this is just the stuff we know about. Imagine what we don't know...

renomart




msg:4131759
 2:01 am on May 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah... they just got busted in Australia too.

More here [smh.com.au]

frontpage




msg:4133011
 11:39 pm on May 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

A Google spokesperson said the Street View cars have been collecting the information since 2006 in more than 30 countries.

"As soon as we became aware of this problem, we grounded our Street View cars and segregated the data on our network, which we then disconnected to make it inaccessible," Google's Eustace said, noting that Google had "failed badly" in maintaining its users trust.

"It's now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks," Google Senior VP of Engineering and Research Alan Eustace said in a post on Google's official blog on Friday.

Did you notice that Google made no mention of deleting the data?

Google in reality is just a spy agency.

frontpage




msg:4133013
 11:47 pm on May 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

"Google said Friday that an audit showed that it was collecting Wi-Fi data, including sites consumers visited, from its Street View cars that compile data for Google Maps and other services."

How is it a mistake when Google wrote the code to acquire such data?

jastra




msg:4133020
 12:03 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

They're only repentant because they got caught. Yes, frontpage: "How is it a mistake when Google wrote the code to acquire such data?"

I'm no lawyer, but in a former life I messed about a bit in counterintelligence courtesy of Uncle Sam. In the US the proscription against *government* intrusion or snooping is that a private citizen has "a reasonable expectation of privacy" in his affairs. I suspect that holds in most enlightened countries who bother to observe the rule of law.

These people (Google) are becoming quite arrogant. The hell with intellectual property rights and the hell with privacy.

And if you want a tinfoil hatted, black helicopter frame of reference, just how close a relationship do Google executives have with the US government in advising on Internet and Web matters? Eric Schmidt is an Obama insider. From the San Frisco Chronicle:

"Schmidt's appointment isn't exactly a surprise given that he served as an economics advisor to Obama during his transition and campaigned for him around the country."

Read more: [sfgate.com...]

Libertarians among us might get very agitated over all this. Does anybody else?

Demaestro




msg:4133025
 12:35 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

If your wifi broadcasting your mac address is a concern for you then turn off your router.

No one has ever claimed wifi was a secure protocol. Google is just recording what people are broadcasting. I can see why people would be upset but it is their own fault, I am sure google isn't the only one trolling neighborhoods for unsecured connections.

Instead of telling people how to protect their info they tell google to stop listening. Their concern shouldn't be google but the people who broadcast their info for anyone to record.

jastra




msg:4133030
 1:08 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Demaestro,

Give me a percentage, a number, of how many *consumers* you believe consciously understand that their wi-fi, unless actively secured, is interceptable by others. Guys like you and me know these things. But the average consumer doesn't.

Google is pushing the ethical envelope. Do no evil. Whatever.

ChanandlerBong




msg:4133032
 1:24 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

The google apologists on here now are surely writing their messages with either a smile on their faces or listening for the mailman bringing their check. To defend G driving around the streets of the world deliberately and consciously recording this data and now desperately backtracking 'cos they got caught...well, let's just say I'm not smiling.

[edited by: ChanandlerBong at 1:58 am (utc) on May 15, 2010]

ken_b




msg:4133034
 1:31 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

What has recording this info got to do with taking pictures for street view?

I don't get it. Did their cameras not work unless the sniffed out wifi signals?

jastra




msg:4133044
 1:50 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, here's another way to look at this. Google as Peeping Tom.

Google, NASDAQ behemoth, whose share price closed on May 14 at $507.53 is caught peeping into private citizens' digital lives.

How different is this than the perv who, walking down the street, notices the blinds at 104 Main Street have a slat that is slightly askew. Walking a bit closer, the perv peeks through the small slit and enjoys a new world of-- shall we say, data.

These people need to be brought up short. But, alas, they seem to be very well connected politically. Eric Schmidt probably got to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom.

What chance do schlubs such as you and I have?

walkman




msg:4133113
 8:44 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is just recording what people are broadcasting. I can see why people would be upset but it is their own fault, I am sure google isn't the only one trolling neighborhoods for unsecured connections.


Do you work for Google or what? What if Google sent squads searching at the trash you placed outside, would that make it OK?

I can't believe people are defending the indefeasible.

londrum




msg:4133125
 9:24 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

if google had been found setting up cameras in the street to peer into our bedrooms, some people would argue that all we need to do is draw the curtains.

engine




msg:4133140
 10:52 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google admits wi-fi data collection blunder [news.bbc.co.uk]
Google has admitted that for the past three years it has wrongly collected information people have sent over unencrypted wi-fi networks.

The issue came to light after German authorities asked to audit the data the company's Street View cars gathered as they took photos viewed on Google maps.

Google said during a review it found it had "been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open networks".

The admission will increase concerns about potential privacy breaches.


zeus




msg:4133148
 11:23 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said internet users shouldn't worry about privacy unless they have something to hide.

What kind of low IQ answer is that, it dossent matter what reason there is, for me I dont want one watching every step I make, thats just not a nice feeling, nobody like to be watched.

Another thing, such Collecting hype can never be a good thing, such stuff can easy come into wrong hands, everything can be hacked we know that.

Its really time that all the talk stops and the govs starts to do something, how about National security for a country, if all such data comes into bad hands, maps, personal data, ........

Hmm this reminds me a lot of the stasi in Germany some years ago

wheel




msg:4133153
 11:49 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here's a viral idea. As an SEO company, hire a PI to follow Eric Schmidt for a week or two. Then use a sniffer to grab whatever you can from around his house. See how intrusive you get.

Publish and watch the traffic roll in. Or have Eric Schmidt balk - even better.

And like google, you don't do it just for the heck of it. You do it as a business, to make money. How much oomph could you get from that?

Brett_Tabke




msg:4133164
 1:17 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't understand what the upset or finger pointing is about. So Google was air sniffing to find open wifi networks to make a world map of public wifi networks. In order to determine that - you have to grab some packets to see if it is an open public network ready for login, or a private network. Ummm, So What? A think it was a brillant idea.

Google, should fire back and put up a list of all the mac addresses they found that were using open wifi.

There is zero private data of any value Google could use in any positive or negative way.

Google used to get lots of good press for doing next to nothing - now they are getting lots of bad press for doing next to nothing.

PCInk




msg:4133171
 2:01 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't understand what the upset or finger pointing is about. So Google was air sniffing to find open wifi networks to make a world map of public wifi networks. In order to determine that - you have to grab some packets to see if it is an open public network ready for login, or a private network. Ummm, So What?


So what? Depends on location.

In the UK, that has broken both the Data Protection Act plus the Computer Misuse Act 2000. Therefore, what they have done is likely to be deemed illegal.

walkman




msg:4133117
 8:56 am on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)


System: The following 2 messages were spliced on to this thread from: http://www.webmasterworld.com/goog/4133115.htm [webmasterworld.com] by brett_tabke - 9:37 am on May 15, 2010 (cst -5)


I don't believe them a bit, now that the pressure is mounting they noticed the 'mistake'

[google.com...]
Google described its collection of snippets from emails and web surfing done on public Wi-Fi networks as a mistake and said it has taken steps to avoid a recurrence.

About 600 gigabytes of data was taken off the Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries. Google said it plans to delete it all as soon as it gains clearance from government authorities.

None of the information had appeared in Google's search engine or other services, according to Mr Eustace, but Google's decision to hold on to the Wi-Fi data until it hears from regulators shows the company realises it could face legal repercussions.




[zdnet.com...]
Google said Friday that an audit showed that it was collecting Wi-Fi data, including sites consumers visited, from its Street View cars that compile data for Google Maps and other services.

In a blog post, Google said that the data protection authority (DPA) in Hamburg, Germany asked for the audit. Since the request, Google looked at all the data it was collecting. Google initially said that it collected public SSID data and MAC addresses but didn’t grab information sent over a network. However, Google realized it was collecting payload data even though it never used it in a product.


P.S. I love Google, but love as much privacy as I can possibly keep.

g1smd




msg:4133168
 1:30 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

If they hold private data about any individual, and especially if the data includes any bank account information, a criminal act may have been committed.

ChanandlerBong




msg:4133180
 2:58 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

There is zero private data of any value Google could use in any positive or negative way.


well I'm sure you'll be more than happy to paste the contents of the last few e-mails you sent and received then. Oh, and every website you've visited in the last 12 hours.

wheel




msg:4133183
 3:22 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

So Google was air sniffing to find open wifi networks to make a world map of public wifi networks.

Open does not mean it's available for anyone to use. We should have a reasonable expectation of privacy, Google's trampling all over that.

Your argument isn't that far off from the ones used by people that hack satellite TV. They're beaming the signal into my backyard, I can do whatever I want with it. Actually, you can't.

Brett_Tabke




msg:4133193
 3:46 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

> paste the contents of the last few e-mails you sent and received then.

And you think you are more secure having your emails on gmail/hotmail/yahoo servers?

I would really like to know if there was any usable data whatsoever. I so doubt it. A couple packets here-n-there.

I can only add, if you are working over an open wifi - you deserve to be sniffed.

> banking

There is no banking going over nonhttps.

> data protection act

That's not what ppl are talking aobut in this thread.

Then the law is mostly unenforcable until someone admits they broke it. That is no justification for breaking a law, but in most countries it is legal to drive through a red light if it is clear the traffic signal is broken. The "data protection" act that covers open public networks - is clearly broken.


It is one thing when Google does something with clear nefarious intent light Google Buzz, but this looks totally innocent.

I am far more upset they are putting street view pictures on Google without permission. WiFi networks? Sniff 'em at will.

Demaestro




msg:4133194
 3:47 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Open does not mean it's available for anyone to use. We should have a reasonable expectation of privacy, Google's trampling all over that.


Open means open, every wireless router has extensive warnings about not encrypting your network. You have no reasonable expectation of privacy if you broadcast your information unencrypted outside your property.

Your argument isn't that far off from the ones used by people that hack satellite TV. They're beaming the signal into my backyard, I can do whatever I want with it. Actually, you can't.


Actually you can if it isn't encrypted, what you can't do is decrypt or attempt to decrypt the signal.

If you have an open signal and that isn't decrypted and I am on my property or public property I can tap that signal. The laws deal with cracking an encryption.... well not in Germany I guess, but I know where I live that is the law when dealing with satellite signals.

iThink




msg:4133196
 3:54 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google used to get lots of good press for doing next to nothing - now they are getting lots of bad press for doing next to nothing.


I guess all publicity is good publicity. Since Google is a creation of a very efficient PR machine, I wonder if all these stories are being planted in the press to keep that PR machine running.

artek




msg:4133208
 4:37 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google corporate policy in regard of the personal privacy is and was very clear:

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said internet users shouldn't worry about privacy unless they have something to hide. And when there's nowhere left to hide...?

In case if you did not read the original tread you can find it here [webmasterworld.com]

herb




msg:4133209
 4:46 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

[nytimes.com...]

Till Steffen, the justice senator for the city-state of Hamburg, where Google’s German headquarters are located, said Google’s latest disclosure raised questions about its intent to follow local laws.

Mr. Steffen on May 7 introduced a bill in the upper house of the German parliament that would fine Google 50,000 euros, or $62,500, for each time it failed to remove the personal property of a citizen who requested to be exempted from StreetView

jastra




msg:4133220
 4:59 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

And what do Google themselves say about the ethics of their own actions?

"At the very least, company officials concede that snooping on Wi-Fi networks, however inadvertent, crossed an ethical line.

'We are acutely aware that we failed badly here,' Eustace wrote."

Full article from which quote was taken is here:

[msnbc.msn.com...]

ppc_newbie




msg:4133225
 5:14 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

99% of normal folks are not technical like most of the people on this board. They will use the WiFi straight out of the box without setting up silly things like passwords and encryption.

If I could tell from your user data that you were visiting a bunch of luxury car sites, and the street view showed that it was coming from a large estate. I would have a salesman knocking at the door right away.

In other words if I can tie your demographics(by scanning streetview images) to your surfing habits that makes for an extremely accurate marketing arena worth gadzillions to companies.

frontpage




msg:4133233
 6:09 pm on May 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here's a viral idea. As an SEO company, hire a PI to follow Eric Schmidt for a week or two. Then use a sniffer to grab whatever you can from around his house. See how intrusive you get.

Publish and watch the traffic roll in. Or have Eric Schmidt balk - even better.


Something similar was already done and Google did not like it one bit. You see Google operates under the premise that "its okay when we do it".

"Google Inc. has blacklisted all CNET reporters for a year, after the popular technology news website published personal information of one of Google's founders in a story about growing privacy concerns for the Internet search engine, according to a CNET statement. ...

To underscore its point about how much personal information is available, the CNET report published some personal information about Google's CEO Eric Schmidt -- his salary; his neighborhood, some of his hobbies and political donations -- all obtained through Google searches."

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