WiFi data collection: An update
May 17, 2010, 20:03 (2 Talkback[s])
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"In that blog post, and in a technical note sent to data
protection authorities the same day, we said that while Google did
collect publicly broadcast SSID information (the WiFi network name)
and MAC addresses (the unique number given to a device like a WiFi
router) using Street View cars, we did not collect payload data
(information sent over the network). But it's now clear that we
have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open
(i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks, even though we never
used that data in any Google products.
"However, we will typically have collected only fragments of
payload data because: our cars are on the move; someone would need
to be using the network as a car passed by; and our in-car WiFi
equipment automatically changes channels roughly five times a
second. In addition, we did not collect information traveling over
secure, password-protected WiFi networks.
"So how did this happen? Quite simply, it was a mistake"
I'm still wondering why they thought it was OK to sniff
wireless networks and collect any data in the first place