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Friday, April 23, 2010

On Google Street View Car Logging Wifi Networks

The Register writes:

Google’s roving Street View spycam may blur your face, but it’s got your number. The Street View service is under fire in Germany for scanning private WLAN networks, and recording users’ unique Mac (Media Access Control) addresses, as the car trundles along.

Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar says he’s “horrified” by the discovery.

“I am appalled... I call upon Google to delete previously unlawfully collected personal data on the wireless network immediately and stop the rides for Street View,” according to German broadcaster ARD.

German news site Spiegel comments (translated):

That Google’s Street View cars also record the location of mobile phone masts and Wi-Fi hotspots is known since 2008. You could already read about it in blogs and see it on Flickr.

The question: Why didn’t get anyone excited over this already in the past two years?

Perhaps because WLan-Cartography is a long known, and so far undisputed method used for determining the location

In many instances we’ve seen a flea market bargaining situation between Google and gov’t authorities, where the one party starts out very high (recording and showing a lot of data, like unblurred faces and number plates) and the other wants as little as possible (“stop the rides”). Sometimes they meet in the middle but it does slow down the speed of releases for Google features in certain countries, Germany being on the control forefront here (Google’s recent censorship and government request charts were another indicator of that).

In other news, Google Maps now added kinetic scrolling, as Google OS mentions, i.e. the map will keep moving a bit in the direction you dragged it if you release the mouse-button in mid-movement. You may be used to such more “natural” dragging behavior when you use the iPhone, for instance.

[Thanks Manoj and!]


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