back to article Google ends all Street View Wi-Fi data collection

Google has "no plans" to resume the collection of WiFi network data via its world-roving Street View cars, according to a report by Canada's privacy commissioner reprimanding the web giant for collecting WiFi payload data as well as network info. "Google still intends to offer location-based services, but does not intend to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    "Go Android and join our snoopernet army!"

    Still, at least they're telling me in advance about their evil ways this time.

    1. Tempest

      Google not alone

      Don't worry, Yellow Back, Apple and many Apple Apps are doing it, too.

      It all amounts to the same thing - invasion of privacy; theft of your personal information; et.

  2. Shane Kent

    And there you have it Corporations of the world....

    feel free to come to Canada and violate our privacy. And when you get caught be sure to have a fall guy. Then "after your get caught" you can say you didn't mean to and won't do it again.

    The presidence is set!

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      I Never Did It...

      ...and i won't do it anymore.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wireless router swap

    What we need is for someone to setup a “like for like” wireless router swap service, I’d happily pay postage to swap my router periodically with someone the other end of the country if it meant they wouldn’t profit from their miss-appropriated data. Wouldnt take long to undermine this dodgy use of our information this when the locations become unreliable.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Hi, my name's Osama bin Laden

      and I'd like to swap my wireless router for yours ...

      Oh look ... there's Kurram Valley, just a little East of Worthing ...

      I LOVE IT when a PLAN comes together!

      1. Adam Salisbury

        When you're done with that...

        Send it to to me in sunny Bracknell, it's just like Worthing but without the sea!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Change your MAC address

      If you're using a wireless router that can run a version of DD-WRT or Tomato, I'm sure someone can put together a module that will let you change your Wireless MAC address on a regular basis.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


      If you are in Canada, then sure...drop me a line. Maybe we can get something going! I'd bet there are a few people who wouldn't mind taking part in such a program - and not all for paranoia reasons. Think about it: you would then have access to a greater range of routers than you had before. You could test for dead spots, device incompatibilities and other such things.

      Screwing up Google is just a bonus. I like this plan!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well yes

      This service benefits both Google and users, not just Android users, but anyone using Google's location API.

      Also, every Android user gets asked whether to allow collection of this data when setting up their handset.

      So by all means, go on a mission replacing your router, all that is transmitted to Google is the BSSID and location, it's hardly the end of the world. You transmit your router's WAN MAC address over the Internet far more frequently and don't seem concerned about that.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    No need for Android, surely?

    I suspect there's no need for Android, I suspect it'll work just fine on e.g. Symbian. I've suspected as much since I had Google Maps for Mobile on my S60 phone, which doesn't even have a GPS, but courtesy of cell locations GMM generally knows roughly where it is, and if it can see any WiFi it can upload the details it sees to HQ, and there we have it - a StreetView-free method of updating the database, with updates paid for by the users out of their data quota (a database that when Google started with it used to be Skyhook's but is now Google's, see separate court action).

    Do No Evil? Pull the other one, it doth have bells on it. Big Ben sized ones. SW1A0AA, I believe.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Dear Skyhook

    Folk outside the north of America might have a lot more sympathy with your position vs Google if you were offering coverage outside north America [1]. You don't. Google's database does. This may not be directly relevant to your court case against Google, but it *is* directly relevant to getting anybody to use your database outside the USA.


    1. Daf L

      Not sure what you are getting at?

      Looking at the page you linked to it shows Skyhook working all over the World. Some countries only have capital or major cities included but Western Europe, Australia and plenty of other places are comprehensively covered.

      So I don't really understand your point.

  6. Shanghai Tom

    Google has no rights to know where I am

    Wherever I am, that's private, google and anyone else has NO rights to know where I am unless I VOLUNTARY invoke such a process. Anything else is a gross and uninvited lack of privacy.

    UK Government Army etc has now banned all IPHONES because of their involuntary geo location reporting. what a security risk that is !

    What I search for on the web often bears no resemblance to where I am, so WTF am I bombarded with results that are totally irrelevant.

    I search "Punjabi Shanghai" and get results from Chicago!, tomorrow it may be Pakistan or whatever, what a crock...

    Even worse, I use a vpn from my phone, with random outlets, so if I am in china I do NOT want french restaurants in Paris in my results.

    My IP address and especially my gps GeoLocation are my PRIVATE property, Google, Facebook, you can all go F O !

    and I will do everyting I can to stop this so called geo location crap. I am never where my AP address says I am !! what a pain these FORCED ad marketers are.

    Tonight I got facebook ads from Brazil, but I am in Beijing.. GOOGLE is worse, presents ads in Brazilian even though my browser is set to accept ENGLISH only web pages.


    1. Neil Greatorex

      Shanghai Tom, in Beijing

      You're doing it wrong..

  7. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Google: "we will no longer break the law."

    We'll release an update than gets our users to do it for us.


    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      @Trevor... it depends.

      Note, I'm definitely not a fan of google, but if you have your phone w wi/fi turned on, and gps turned on, Google can capture your lat/long and the SSID of networks and their relative strength.

      Do this enough times with enough different phones, you can pinpoint the wi/fi hot spots and also help to narrow down your location using this info in addition to GPS.

      Because the SSID information is being broadcast there is no expectation of privacy so its not against the law to use this information to help determine your location within the 10-100m that you can expect from using GPS alone. (Number of sats, clocks, etc all will affect your phone's accuracy.)

      I am deeply saddened but not surprised by the lack of prosecution of the countries involved in the wi-fi snag of Google.

      Give them credit though... their lawyers learned from Gates and Microsoft. ;-)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        And passwords...

        Because there's going to be at least one person with an Android handset going to want to log into each AP (their home, a friend or relative's)...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What Ian said

      And, every "Google Experience" Android device prompts you at first use whether you want to allow location sharing. Just say no.

      So many people getting in such a huff over a tickbox.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UN Security Council seat

    If Canada succeeds in getting Google to have a real person answer the phone to address any security concerns, I think Portugal should be voted out of the UN and Canada gets back in.

    That's my IT angle and I'm sticking to it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Umm .... using handsets .... to collect data ....

    And -- Dear google;

    who pray tell is paying the data services charge to send that wifi info back to google from these handsets?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Umm .... using handsets .... to collect data ....

      That would be the person who ticked the 'Allow location sharing' when they setup their handset.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      its clearly stated, when you enable location services, that data charges may apply.

      Anyway its not live feed, all it needs to do is record what and where then bulk log it back to GCHQ (Google Central Head Quaters apparantly they are not a spy shop) once a day.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      say AC, how do you think your phones location service actually works? (the one that is not GPS) is it by magic?! NO! the phone passes cell and wifi data to a reference server which triangulates a location from known data and passes this back to the phone. Now based on the the fact that it is already passing that data to the web, how much more do you think it would cost for that data to get to google? heres a clue; its already there you muppet! the location server is Googles....

    4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


      I have been really upset by the tricks Google are using to make sure that you have your data connection turned on all the time. I must check whether there is an outgoing firewall app in the Android Marketplace.

    Thumb Down

    good result

    Unless your name is in the SSID, how would anyone go about connecting your ID with the SSID? I thought it was an interesting concept for identifying hotspot's.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    My SSID is a work of art

    I broadcast it, hence I have no expectation of keeping it secret, everyone who is capable of receiving it is welcome to see it. On no account may it be placed in a database and/or used for any commercial purposes whatsoever. This is a legal notice.

    Piracy WILL be prosecuted.

  12. Gordon Pryra
    Black Helicopters

    Lots of hot air.

    Many people complaining about privacy laws and crying about going to court.

    But when it comes down to it, nothing will happen. Look at Phorm for example, not only were BT let off by the British Police because "They didn't realise it was a crime" but the English Government refused to comment about it to good old Viviane Reding.

    When these company's are doing the dirty work Governments want, then they will be above the law.

  13. Avatar of They
    Thumb Down


    What is the point when Google already has the networks for Europe. "Oh we won't collect them from now", but we have all already and we aren't getting rid of that lovely data.

    Waste of time, but then again I like that countries have stood up against them. Shame Britain is a pox ridden cess pool run by the inbred.

  14. JaitcH

    These features set smartphones apart

    The ability for smartphones to continuously sniff WiFi and GPS info is what makes smartphones more intrusive.

    Every single use of WiFi and GPS data should be subject to user control. That's why I like like even my late model 'dumb' phone - I had the GPS crippled. Cell triangulation is so unreliable which is why the FCC mandated GPS modules.

    And you get to backhaul the data to Google, Apple and all the Apps advertisers.

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