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Germany Demands Google Forfeit Citizens' Wi-Fi Data 318

eldavojohn writes "Germany has ordered Google to give up hard disk drives used to store German data collected during their Street View operations in that country. This follows Google's admission last week (after prodding from the Germans) that it had collected the data from unsecured wireless area networks from around the entire world as its roving cars collected the photo archive for Street View. Google says they've offered to just destroy the data, in cooperation with national regulators, but the German government wants to know what they've collected. They do not think that destroying the drives suffices for compliance with the laws. Officials went so far as to say of the situation, 'It is not acceptable that a company operating in the EU does not respect EU rules.' Germany has certainly been keeping their eye on the search giant." The Ars coverage notes that the US FTC may be looking more closely at Google's collection as well.
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Germany Demands Google Forfeit Citizens' Wi-Fi Data

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  • Re:Privacy laws (Score:2, Informative)

    by Aqualung812 ( 959532 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:02PM (#32256352)

    and distributing it (which is what Google is doing)

    Show me where they're distributing it. From everything I've heard, Google is the one that said "Oops, we got this stuff by mistake & are going to delete it as soon as we let everyone know". Go read the man pages for Kismet, sounds like that's what they were using & didn't turn off the data collection option.

  • Re:Privacy laws (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dare nMc ( 468959 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @08:36PM (#32259708)

    IP address would be useless, 90+% of them will be behind a NAT device (and thus mostly be similar to, the majority of the rest wouldn't be permanent addresses, so wouldn't be reliable after just a week. Unless you logged into the networks, and did a traceroute to a outside network, ip addresses would be useless.

    Just bring up your wireless "Site Monitor" in any major city and you will see dozens of unique mac addresses that a) will likely be the same a year from now b) not require a connection to see (like the IP would.) Thus you could run a program on your laptop that would gather those MAC's, send them to google, and google could a) give you a location within a block (indoors, outdoors, un-affected by solar flares...) b) google can refine the map of AP's in your area.

    You would need a decent seed, to get people to give up this information in exchange for a location, thus what google is logging. With Mac address and signal strength You could locate someone withing a couple cubicles at my work. With GPS you could locate which door they walked in, at best. With IP address you could tell it was a mesh network, little else.

  • Re:Privacy laws (Score:3, Informative)

    by drewzhrodague ( 606182 ) <drew.zhrodague@net> on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @10:12PM (#32260244) Homepage Journal
    geolocation, which is what Google obviously wants them for

    Bingo. A neat idea made almost moot with GPS chips in cell phones. If you know where the WiFi is, you can look up the location of the WiFi via Google -- without a GPS. I mentioned in a similar /. article about [] which I think maps whichever radio they're able to get data from.

    I experimented with this stuff back in 2002 when I created [], which is a wardriving map application, which harvests data from wardrivers. I'm not a math guy, so I used a weighted average for estimating the WIFi signal source. Mapserver [] is kinda neat too, which I used since Google Maps didn't exist yet.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito