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article imageGoogle admits to snooping on WiFi networks

By Sharon Davis     May 14, 2010 in Technology
The same day that a tech-geek friend noted that his Gmail adverts changed according to the content of his mail, Google admitted to collecting sensitive private data sent over WiFi networks on Friday, 14th May.
The Huffington Post reports that an audit of Google's WiFi data collected by its Street View cars revealed that contrary to the company's claims, for at least three years, Google has been collecting payload data (the information users send over a wireless network) from non-password-protected WiFi networks.
The audit was requested by Germany's data protection authority (DPA) and a programming error dating back to 2006 was found to be at fault.
Google's Senior VP of Engineering & Research Alan Eustace wrote, "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."
Google is taking steps to rectify the issue. The Huffington Post reports it has already grounded its Street View cars, and will also halt collection of WiFi network data.
Another article by the Huffington Post detailed explanation of the data collected by Google cars.
The DPA claims that the the collection of private data was "unlawful" since it was carried on without permission from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
The DPA had requested that Google delete the information, but Google assured German officials that Street View's methods are lawful and that such methods have been used by Intel and Skyhook. This is now apparently not the case.
More about Google, Snooping, Wifi networks, Privacy, Google street view
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