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