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Google Comes Clean About Wi-Fi Network Data Collection

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Google opened up in a blog post today confirming that they have been collecting data from Wi-Fi networks with their Google Maps Street View Cars as they have driven around. This is a subject that has been brought up, but in a recent blog post Google said that it had not been collecting "payload data", but is now saying that it actually has been.

On the Official Google Blog, Alan Eustace, Senior VP, Engineering & Research writes:

Alan Eustace of Google Talks Wi-Fi Data CollectionIn that blog post, and in a technical note sent to data protection authorities the same day, we said that while Google did collect publicly broadcast SSID information (the WiFi network name) and MAC addresses (the unique number given to a device like a WiFi router) using Street View cars, we did not collect payload data (information sent over the network). But it’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products.

However, we will typically have collected only fragments of payload data because: our cars are on the move; someone would need to be using the network as a car passed by; and our in-car WiFi equipment automatically changes channels roughly five times a second. In addition, we did not collect information traveling over secure, password-protected WiFi networks.

According to Eustace, the payload data collection was an accident. A piece of code had mistakenly been used in the software used in the Street View Cars, but there was never any intention to collect or use such data.

Google says its grounded its Street View cars and segregated data on its network, then disconnected to make it inaccessible. They are in the proces of trying to delete the data, pending regulatory guidance. They are also asking a third-party to review the problematic software and confirm that data is deleted, and they’re reviewing their procedures to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Perhaps most significantly, they’re stopping the collection of WiFi network data from Street View cars completely.

The company has also decided to offer an encrypted version of Google Search, similar to its encrypted Gmail offering.

Google Comes Clean About Wi-Fi Network Data Collection
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  • http://framingmaster.ru/ Guest

    Google… Is monster.

  • http://greenhostsolutions.com Louis

    Seriously – what is wrong about them gathering this data? Anyone with a computer of handheld phone can get the same information whilst walking past. If people didn’t want their SSID public they should hide it. Furthermore, gathering the odd packet of information on unsecured wireless connections is the least of those peoples problem – chances are the neighbours using up your bandwidth. Why are people so up tight about public information being gathered?

  • http://www.TheOkayNetwork.com Adsense Publisher

    First of all, now you’re just making a map for the criminals. Here is where all the secured Wi-Fi is to hack. No don’t drive around, let Google do it for you.

    Not all of what Google recorded was the Wi-Fi from a coffee shop, it could have been from the offices above it, or behind it, or next to it. Also with mobile hotspot devices (yes wi-fi router that fits in your pocket), it could have been somebody using their laptop at the bus stop you just passed by. Also some phones can also be used as a Wi-Fi hot spot for up to 8 people such as the newest HTC phone.

  • Lynn Jacobs

    As more than one country have been affected by the “WiFi” admission, personally, it is widely known, since I have a public persona, that my Gmail account was broken into and someone used my Gmail address to send emails.

    A half an hour after informing Google, and I had posted this information on Facebook, Google fixed my account.

    Cyberdefender, a company that I contracted (similar to Norton, McAfee, etc.) watched the pings, routers, and twitter exchanges, emails, etc. for two days. As an official “geek”, in the music business, you have to be a geek if you R a DIY composer/musician/singer/songwriter, I know both the apple and the orange (Mac & PC) including Parallel (combining both platforms).

    I informed Cyberdefender that someone tapped into an open Airport WiFi signal and had been to the FBI with regards to a “stalker”.

    All of the crapolotimus has hit the fan.

    In addition, as a former SEO writer and online news-stringer, having a background, which includes reporting on conspiracies, FB&Yahoo, Google & YouTube all of these entities are joined together. The recently reported lawsuit regarding the “stealing of code”, and in the NetWorld, everything is code, GUI, platforms & networking exchanges, well, the pipeline of information is just that. FB got the info. on people, Google’s got the largest search engine, in the meantime, China, Pakistan are rebelling because of the privacy issues.

    There is no more privacy on the Net, none, I’ve had almost every e-mail account broken into.

    There is no more privacy on the Net. Gee, did I just repeat myself? The Net is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll find when you click (or Doubleclick in the case of Google, the collector of data, and year

  • Guest

    Maybe there is nothing wrong with Google collecting the information, but it would be nice to know what their intent was.

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