Google Street View WiFi Data Dump to be Settled out of Court

Connecticut and Google agree to settle out of court over WiFi data collected during Google’s Street View data collection. According to The Register:

In December, then Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal hit Google with a Civil Investigative Demand – the equivalent of a subpoena – insisting that the company turn over the Wi-Fi payload its Street View cars collected from insecure Wi-Fi networks in the state. And Google refused to do so. Today, new Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell announced that the state had reached an agreement with Google to settle the matter out of court.

When Google captured photo data for their “Street View” project, the collection cars also collected unsecured Wi-Fi data, including e-mail and confidential data:

Google stipulates, for purposes of settlement discussions, that the payload data collected contained URLs of requested Web pages, partial or complete e-mail communications or other information, including confidential and private information the network user was transmitting over the unsecured network while Google’s Street View car was within range.”

Wireless SSID (network names) and MAC addresses were also collected.  It really makes you wonder why Google did this. From earlier reports, they inadvertently used a program that collected this information. But according to The Register, Google posted a blog entry stating they collected Wi-Fi data all across the globe. This really doesn’t sound like an accident.

Because it was done while they were creating “Street View” for Google Maps, you could assume they now have the physical location of numerous Wi-Fi routers. One would have to ask why Google would want Wi-Fi router physical location data…  

~ by D. Dieterle on January 31, 2011.

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