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Google to Pay $7Million to US States for Wi - Fi Eavesdropping

Google to Pay $7Million to US States for Wi - Fi Eavesdropping

Martyn Williams
@martyn_williams Mar 13, 2013 | 4:10 AM

Google will pay $7 million to settle complaints from dozens of U.S. states about its unauthorized collection of personal data transmitted over Wi-Fi networks.

The money will be paid to 37 states and the District of Columbia, which had gone after Google after it admitted that its Street View cars had collected the data inadvertently between 2008 and 2010.

Read more: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2030705/google-to-pay-7-milli...

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While I don't condone "PERSONAL INFO" being collected

I think this has another side to it and people should keep that in mind.

Our networks are increasingly becoming controlled by monopolies of big carriers. The best way to even begin to fight that is by knowing all relevant info on the problem. If Google maps out where WiFi networks are and how many are open vs. locked down, that info can be valuable to us. We can use it to support a movement for things like mesh networks.

Mesh networks are independent groups of WiFi spots that overlap. This means that technically, anyone in the group can hop across all these routers to reach anyone else in the same group. In a large city, this could effectively eliminate all the need for outside internet providers (for data originating locally, that is). What could be better for people than bringing the internet back to private hands and eliminating massive companies that bow to the government's every whim?

The tools for this already exist and can easily be downloaded to a PC, cell phone, tablet or other device. The problem is not on the technical side.

The problem is that people don't believe they belong to any such group of overlapping private coverage. With Google's map of neighborhoods, one could easily show that an entire city is covered by multiple signals regardless of where you go. This massively encourage membership because it would quell fears that walking away from your ISP will leave you without a connection.

So, I am not saying that Google should have collected any personal info but the network layout info collection should be supported. And after all, what real info are they going to be able to get in the 20 seconds they are in range as they pass by your house? The most they could possibly get is simply back to just "there's a WiFi signal named XYZ" and "it's secured/not secured".