UK Finds That Google Wi-Fi Snooping Yielded Little
No 'meaningful details' gathered from Street View sniffing
Google recently found themselves under fire from privacy regulators in multiple countries for the company's admission
that they had been collecting Wi-Fi user data from unsecured hotspots using Street View vehicles. Google initially stated they only collected publicly available SSID and MAC Address data -- then later acknowledged that they were collecting snippets of actual transmitted data -- though Google insisted they did so accidentally
. However, a UK review has found
no real privacy harm was done:
The ICO said in a statement: "On the basis of the samples we saw, we are satisfied so far that it is unlikely that Google will have captured significant amounts of personal data." It added: "There is also no evidence - as yet - that the data captured by Google has caused or could cause any individual detriment." Despite this, Google was "wrong" to gather the information, said the ICO.
The UK's findings are in line with Google's admission that the equipment used changed channels roughly five times a second while the vehicle was moving.
In other words, while Google did intend to collect publicly available SSID and MAC information, most of the live Wi-Fi user data collected (from unsecured hotspots only
) was largely useless. Google has admitted error and apologized for their screw up, though the company still faces inquiries in multiple countries and in the United States.