A just-amended complaint in a class-action lawsuit first submitted two weeks ago claims that a patent Google submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in November 2008 shows that the search giant purposefully created technology to gather, analyze and use data sent by users over their wireless networks. ... In its patent application [appft1.uspto.gov], Google noted that multiple antennas could be mounted on vehicles, which would be able to obtain a more accurate estimate of the router's location based on a "stereo" effect. ... "As disclosed in the '776 Application, the more types and greater the quantity of Wi-Fi data obtained, decoded, and analyzed by Google from any particular user, the higher its 'confidence level' in the calculated location of that user's wireless AP," the changed lawsuit stated. "Collection, decoding, and analysis of a user's payload data would, therefore, serve to increase the accuracy, value, usability, and marketability of Google's new method."
so the real story in google's privacy intrusion was the plan to use wifi signatures to locate consumers. i'm guessing that three or more identified wifi signals and the relative signal strength is enough information to put you in front of or adjacent to the right building. i can already hear the jingles on my phone as i approach the fast food intersection.
[edited by: tedster at 2:10 am (utc) on Jun 6, 2010] [edit reason] small spelling fix [/edit]