Google Gets in Trouble for Recording Public Information

Yes - Google makes money off of information. They read your emails, keep your search history, follow your finances, remember where you go on google maps, and if you have an Android phone, use the Chrome web browser etc, they know pretty much everything about you.

And what does big and evil Google do with all that information? Well, generally, not a lot. They target web ads at you... which I am pretty much immune to at this point.

Now they are getting in big trouble, because it turns out that when they were doing street view, they were also collecting information on wifi spots (and IP info) in order to give better location services based on IP, not just GPS/AGPS/cell triangulation.

And I think this is a really cool service. When I was staying in the Lake District in the UK, miles from anywhere, my Pre on Google Maps knew exactly where I was. And that was a good thing.

Anyway, as they were collecting and storing all of this public information, about unencrypted wifi, turns out that some people were sending unencrypted wifi back and forth. And Google saved some of that data along with other data that they recorded.

Let me make this very clear: when you send data over publicly available bandwidth, in range of a public area, and without any attempt to make it not public (ie encryption), that information is public. It is not hard to encrypt a network - if you are capable of logging into a network and using it, your are capable of encrypting it. If you decide to make your network public anyway, and send information publicly, then you have not right to privacy.

It is absolutely ridiculous that Google is getting in trouble for this. It would be like me claiming that it was illegal for someone to walk through Hyde Park's Speakers' Corner with a audio recorder running. Ridiculous.

I generally believe in the protection of privacy. But in this case, there is no privacy being protected.

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