Practical Technology

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You’ll soon able to opt-out of Google Wi-Fi snooping


You did know those cars and trikes Google uses to take photos for Google Street View were also collecting your Wi-Fi Access Point (AP) information and location too right? Well, they have been since 2009, and now, thanks to complaints from privacy advocates in Europe, you’ll be able to opt out of this “service.”

In a Google blog site, Peter Fleischer, Global Privacy Counsel, wrote, “Even though the wireless access point signals we use in our location services don’t identify people, we think we can go further in protecting people’s privacy. At the request of several European data protection authorities, we are building an opt-out service that will allow an access point owner to opt out from Google’s location services. Once opted out, our services will not use that access point to determine users’ locations.”

Of course, as Paul Ducklin, the Head of Technology, Asia Pacific, for a Sophos, a security firm, notes, “This is a Catch-22. Google pretty much has to keep you on file, simply in order to know that you didn’t want to be on file in the first place. Otherwise they’d just add you back in next time the Street View Wi-Fi scanner came round – and then you’d have to opt out again. Sadly, you can’t opt out of the Street View collection process proactively.”

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