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Google Plans World Takeover Using Your Clever Wi-Fi SSID Name
German authorities, news outlets freak out over public data collection
by Karl Bode 10:14AM Wednesday Apr 28 2010
Google last week started getting heat from the German Government, who suddenly realized that for some time the Google Street View vehicles have been collecting publicly available hotspot details (SSID and hotspot MAC address) as they drive around photographing streets. Some European lawmakers had already forced Google to blur the faces of any people photographed, and now Germany's privacy watchdog has created a new wave of hysteria over what Google's doing with that Wi-Fi data.

Countless articles popped up this week simply assuming Google was using this collection of too-clever-by-far Linksys network names for something nefarious -- perhaps to either take over the world -- or watch you nap (amazingly none of these articles were able to actually say). Google themselves quickly responded with a European blog post highlighting that the information was primarily used for GPS triangulation and general localization services:
quote:
The data which we collect is used to improve Google’s location based services, as well as services provided by the Google Geo Location API. For example, users of Google Maps for Mobile can turn on “My Location” to identify their approximate location based on cell towers and WiFi access points which are visible to their device. Similarly, users of sites like Twitter can use location based services to add a geo location to give greater context to their messages.
Google goes on to note that the information is not published, doesn't help them identify or track specific individuals (outside of router brand preference and SSID humor), and isn't being used to covertly watch you tend to your azaleas. Of course Google needs to be transparent about how they're using this data -- but so far they seem to be very clear in government filings (pdf) about what they're doing. Of course keep in mind what they're doing is no different than what a number of other companies (like Skyhook Wireless) have been doing for years.

Still, for those under the illusion that privacy still even really exists and terrified of what Google's doing simply because Google's huge -- you can still turn off your SSID or change your MAC address occasionally. That or move to the mountains and join that electromagnetically-sensitive militia you've always had your eye on?

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woody7
Premium
join:2000-10-13
Torrance, CA

hmmmm....

They can use mine, it is "keepthe_ckout"
--
BlooMe

powerspec88
Premium
join:2007-03-11
Independence, MO

1 recommendation

Re: hmmmm....

Or mine, "Faen ta deg" which is F*ck You in norwegian

ArrayList
netbus developer
Premium
join:2005-03-19
Evanston, IL

crazies.. the lot of them.

i'd prefer that someone be honest about collecting this information, which is completely useless outside the realm that google is using it for.
--
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Tungsten

join:2008-12-29
Pittsburgh, PA

1 edit

What ?

Good editorial until the the last sentence. Just baiting the waters I assume ?
I noticed the edit Karl

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: What ?

I'd bet if the story was about AT&T or Verizon or Comcast collecting the info, the tenor of the story and the responses would be much more negative.

Karl also published this at Techdirt: »www.techdirt.com/articles/201004···54.shtml
--
Are you happy with your rep in Washington, DC?

Thane_Bitter
Inquire within

join:2005-01-20

Skyhook

Apparently there are no Apple Iphones, or Ipods in Germany because Skyhook offers the same information for those devices.

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyhook_Wireless

Its not like the Germans to go after the bigger guy when a smaller (weaker, more vulnerable) target is close by.

Transmaster
Don't Blame Me I Voted For Bill and Opus

join:2001-06-20
Cheyenne, WY
Reviews:
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1 recommendation

Sca-Reem!

German Politician: Das ist schrecklich eine Verletzung der Privatsphäre, oh dies das Schlimmste ist, dass dies jemals geschehen .............. können wir es besteuern?

Translation: This is horrible an invasion of privacy, oh this the the worst this that has ever happened ..............can we tax it?

(This is a Word Monkey English/German translation I have no idea how accurate it is )_
--
I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.
- Mark Twain in Eruption

kataan
RIP my love.
Premium
join:2003-04-22
Greenacres, WA
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Sca-Reem!

said by Transmaster:

.............. können wir es besteuern?
I see you have been to Germany too!

N3OGH
Yo Soy Col. "Bat" Guano
Premium
join:2003-11-11
Philly burbs
kudos:2

1 recommendation

Re: Skyhook

Of course not.

Go after the weaker guy first, then use his industrial capacity to go after the big fish.

Then, have an incompetent boob making your strategic decisions, and get your ass handed to you in a 2 front war.

OK, no more. I'm dangerously close to being OT....
--
Petty people are disproportionally corrupted by petty power

ArrayList
netbus developer
Premium
join:2005-03-19
Evanston, IL
Reviews:
·Comcast
said by Thane_Bitter:

Its not like the Germans to go after the bigger guy when a smaller (weaker, more vulnerable) target is close by.
oh snap!
--
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OldschoolDSL
Premium
join:2006-02-23
Indian Orchard, MA

1 edit

I'm on Google

Google Maps (Google Earth) has me walking down the street & at another location they have me driving my car..... I do not mind 1 bit.

If I wasn't worried about security as much... I'd be happy to share my wireless (its secured).

tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
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Privacy in the Digital Age

There are so many serious privacy concerns in the digital age I got very frustrated when politicians get upset over something trivial like this. If you set up an Access Point and BROADCAST its name it does not strike me as an invasion of privacy if someone wonders by and makes note of it.

On the other hand if you enable encryption and someone cracks it, even if you are using brain dead WEP, that is an entirely different matter.

/tom
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: Privacy in the Digital Age

I love it.. yes, they are worried about privacy.. just like the latest Facebook drama. "OMG!! Facebook may share some information about use with another partner who may in turn send that to another site"... Really? So my name, in a pool of 400 million others, who may have downloaded a song, may be shared with another site who DOESN'T even know me, may send that data somewhere else to yet another site that doesn't know me? So what if John Doe listened to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance... who the F cares!?!? So some guy name JOHN listened to a song.. I see how congress needs to spend time on this.

I think some people are just a bit too scared over things they have no need to be. Not to mention, many people are already anonymous on the internet anyway.

I think the word PRIVACY is a bit thrown around like kids throw balls around these days. Let's talk when my name, address, phone number, etc. are made available to THE PUBLIC to look me up, run through my information, etc. As it stands now, so what if someone knows the name of the song I downloaded and listened to.. I'm still trying to get over the fact that the I (and I don't) have speeding tickets, public drunkeness, or other "offenses" can be found by anyone who wants to run through my past. (again, I don't have any of that) But yea, a song or something is soooo much a privacy concern.. and that data isn't even made public.

Oh well.

45071419

join:2006-07-30

SSID

You still broadcast your SSID, even if it is "turned off".
sam64

join:2006-07-31
Newtown, PA

Countless others do it too...it's called "war driving"

This just shows you how clueless and out of touch some politicians really are. If you do broadcast your SSID there is nothing that really stops someone from collecting it. It is akin to someone driving down the street and making a note of the color used on the door on each house. It is freely available and someone thought it interesting to make a note and collect it.

BTW, check out this link
»www.wigle.net/

It is not just Google who is doing it. There are numerous others who drive around and collect and compile this data. Type in your address and you'd be surprised to see what is available.

OldschoolDSL
Premium
join:2006-02-23
Indian Orchard, MA
Reviews:
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·Comcast

Re: Countless others do it too...it's called "war driving"

said by sam64:

This just shows you how clueless and out of touch some politicians really are. If you do broadcast your SSID there is nothing that really stops someone from collecting it. It is akin to someone driving down the street and making a note of the color used on the door on each house. It is freely available and someone thought it interesting to make a note and collect it.

BTW, check out this link
»www.wigle.net/

It is not just Google who is doing it. There are numerous others who drive around and collect and compile this data. Type in your address and you'd be surprised to see what is available.
I'm not listed (or anything close to me)
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sam64

join:2006-07-31
Newtown, PA

Re: Countless others do it too...it's called "war driving"

I just means that someone who wardrives and uploads to this site has not got around to your way as yet.

They claim to have 20+ million networks discovered worldwide. Another thing I noticed, their map is very slow to load the actual networks discovered - map loads fast but the background data takes a long time. Give it a little bit I am sure you will find yourself here.

Selenia
I love Debian
Premium
join:2006-09-22
Fort Smith, AR
kudos:2

This story is hilarious

I wouldn't be terrified of Google wardriving and picking up my SSID, I'd be smiling. I am always coming up with SSIDs for humor value for those who just happen to do a scan and see me. Hiding an SSID for security is snakeoil anyways. Any wireless card in promiscuous mode can pick up the SSID just by watching a few actual packets. My AP is WPA2, so I'm not too worried about intrustions.

One last thing
said by Karl Bode :

but so far they seem to be very clear in government filings (pdf) about what they're doing.
Fixed it for you.
--
The new Sony rootkit-Using the ability to remove features you paid for. What's next? Boycott Sony products »[Rant] ps3 update = no more Linux

Ioweyou

@comcast.net

Not my router

I dropped my laptop several months ago and it hasn't worked since. I turned of the radio in my router and pulled off the antenna. I'd like to see them get a signal out in the street.

fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2

They can have my SSID

But good luck trying to break in to my network, which is secured with WPA2 enterprise and RADIUS.
chimera

join:2009-06-09
Washington, DC

Re: They can have my SSID

Which would be great if you weren't using the password "password". :P

Lokro
Premium
join:2002-12-28
Loveland, CO

Side effect?

Maybe this will bring awareness so more people start securing their wireless. The number of open routers in my neighborhood surprises me. While I'm sure some people leave them open on purpose I bet there is a good number of people that have no idea they are open.

NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:11
Reviews:
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What are we going to do tomorrow, Google?

When did Google hire "The Brain"? Mad mice should be caged, not turned loose on the Internet!
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum
Kearnstd
Elf Wizard
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

Can someone help me understand this?

they throw a freaking shit fit over Google capturing AP names. but at the same time the EU wants to sniff packets and monitor people's internet connection for the chance that P2P Piracy might be happening. i guess when the government or the entertainment industry does it then its not invasion of privacy.
--
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megarock

join:2001-06-28
Catawissa, MO

Hmmm...

In other words Germans are smart enough to both put someone like Hitler in power but are scared of Google taking over the world?

LMAO.

Starfish
Per Ardua Ad Astra
ExMod 2002-04
join:2000-12-28
Netherlands

Re: Hmmm...

Well, I'd say that Germany has simply learned a few lessons from their history with e.g. Hitler and the East-German Stasi who was snooping on everyone.

They have a better understanding of the power of information/knowledge than most other Western countries..

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi
»www.imdb.com/title/tt0405094/
megarock

join:2001-06-28
Catawissa, MO
Probably true. We all know after the past few years that both the Constitution and the right to privacy can and will be ignored by our own government.

PunkGod

join:2003-02-02

location based services

Why can't we get a cell phone with true GPS navigation. Not this triangulation crap. I want more options than just one company.

Yes I know about Garmin's Nuviphone.
edz

join:2006-05-24
New York, NY

1 edit

some other names

you should have a look at »www.wtfwifi.com on google, list of funny wifi names. Some are really outrageous, lol!

Jabey

@optonline.net

Wtf

Check out wtfwifi.com who has tons of funny wifi names