Or just hide the SSID
If you don't broadcast it, it won't show up.
Google has magnanimously offered to ignore Wi-Fi hotspots that have been renamed with a trailing "_nomap" to let the snoops know what you don't want them to know. Google logs the location of Wi-Fi routers to aid its location pinpointing services, as knowing the nearest router can provide a coarse location as well as making it …
In theory SSIDs are unique, but I get the impression someone in Canada had changed theirs to the same as mine. For a few months Google maps on my phone would locate me somewhere over there when it couldn't get an GPS fix (in my house for example).
It hasn't happened for a while now, so if it was a clone, he's changed routers and mashed in another random collection of hex digits.
>> If you don't broadcast it, it won't show up.
Wrong, so very wrong !
If you turn off SSID broadcasts, you can actually increase the number of packets transmitted with the SSID in them. You also increase the workload on both your access point and attached devices as attached devices will keep actively looking for other bases with the same SSID rather than passively looking for broadcasts.
In short, "hiding" your SSID just doesn't, and it increases the amount of control traffic required to make the system work.
But I agree with the others, this is just typical Google - "we're going to do it, and as a breadcrumb tossed to refusenics we'll allow you to ask us to remove it if you actually find out there's a away to ask". In my case, I can confidently predict that if I changed my SSID as suggested then it would ... have absolutely no effect whatsoever for a good many years. Google streetmap cars have only been round here once, and I doubt if they'll come by again any time soon.
One fairly useful strategy would be to use a system where the MAC address can be changed, and script something to change it very frequently and randomly. Once you change the MAC address, then the data they have becomes useless. Not to mention, it increases their storage requirements keeping track of all the random base stations that do get reported by automated snitches.
This says Google bet right --- what little resistance there is is some powerless posturing. You leave fake surprise they come to this proposal? In what galaxy would they propose an opt-in policy without substantial outside pressure, as it would defeat the entire purpose (namely to use the ubiquity of signals to improve accuracy)?
If you worked there and proposed that you'd be fired for obvious stupidity, probably kindly phrased as naivity (kindly, because they're Not Evil).
Do you routinely cover up your house name and number (or anonymise your house) so that people passing looking for an address can't locate themselves?
It would also have the advantage of stopping those pesky new postmen/women from being able to trace you easier.
Google screwed up slurping up fragments of data when they drove around so rant about that for sure but getting your knickers in a twist over your publicly displayed WiFi details being used by every phone manufacturer (and others, such as skyhook) to assist in location tracking is just a bit too paranoid.
Are all the other companies going to respect this map tag, or have even offered some kind of opt out? Can you imagine what "Steve's" response would've been?
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Where is this magical IP address database then? Or were you just using a broad "if" that doesn't actually relate to the point at hand?
If so, then maybe go one step further "you might if they were running around the world killing everyone who lived at an even numbered house"... yes I would!
Every web site you visit has your IP, with addresses mapped to them it would be easy to build mailing lists and databases of the real people who visited. Your ISP, Google, and a few others can pretty much track ANY site you visit.
Its not very magical, and you seem ignorant of this, except I notice you post as an anonymous coward...
And as far as killing, yeah maybe in an extreme case, number and logging, then rounding up and then killing....gee that never happened before, oh wait it did and there still people alive who were there.
Besides I wasn't jumping to such extreme hyperbole, just pointing out that people may not display their house numbers so boldly if it linked them to sites that give away their political interests, religions etc. You can always take a rational comment, take it one step further and make it stupid.
The whole concept is to make mapping data for you easier. Sure there is a ton of other data which can be extrapolated but at the end of the day does the fact that they have acquired your locational information matter at all?
Opting out is a great alternative and is one which can be automated via a name change. If you're that paranoid then append the _nomap to your SSID and go nuts. For me I'd rather have a service that functions seamlessly and remain financially free to use and have a minimal cost of usage data.
I'm not. I can manage with cell tower assisted location which is between me and my network. But every time he comes round my house Google get a little bit more data confirming that yes, my router is still there.
Now I'm supposed to have to change my SSID to opt out of Google's spy vehicles (Android phones). However they're unlikely to do this at the client end as Android phones are updated once in a blue moon. That data goes to Google anyway and at Google's end is probably marked with a little flag saying 'don't use me for wi-fi assisted location for Android phones' but they've still got that data for other Googly purposes (e.g. linking BSSIDs to the ISP's address if the Android phone ever connects through that router so when you search in Google now you have a disturbingly accurate geo-IP location on the left hand side of the screen).
This news is going to reach about 0.0000001% of anyone with a router. Google takes the data they want, offers a half-hearted opt out years later, and wins again.
See the problem?
I f enough people arbitrarily swapped router names, wouldn't that create just a little confusion?
If I was near -say- three routers with specifc names, which had actually existed in different parts of the country when Google drove past, would that neatly screw up the value of thiose ID's?
The SSID is something I broadcast volutarily. I can't do much about the BSSID anyway. It doesn't actually identify my house or anything, and authentication is required to get onto my LAN.
Why do people want to deliberately sabotage what is actually quite a useful thing (aiding GPS for location) by making it harder? Sounds a bit like complaining that Google know where your house is based on your postcode.
Yes I expect to get downvoted.
Does knowing where you are really make the GPS calculations easier, or is that an El Reg invention? It doesn't seem all that likely, given the way GPS works (triangulation in 3D based on 4 sources at known location and known relative distance). Is there some iterative improvement going on in a GPS which would mean a good initial estimate helps?
It seems more likely that you just don't need GPS at all if the WiFi can tell you where you are to 100m and you're only looking for local restaurant reviews.
Ill counter that if GPS is good enough for Aircraft, Shipping, and such, it should be good enough on the consumer level without WiFi as a crutch. And it is, with a good receiver at least. They're standalone and don't exactly come cheap if they're any good.
Im not sure but it seems to be that Android and iPhone manufacturers use the cheapest small GPS receivers they can get so the signal reception winds up sucking everywhere and its simply unusable indoors. I dont know if this is the case or not, as I dont know much about smartphone hardware aside from the radio transceivers and how they operate.
In the US Military we use a handheld GPS receiver called a DAGR and on several occasions playing with them indoors while I was bored, or while calibrating a few of them I noticed none of them dropped the signals even in hardened locations like my phone would. And this was on the civil channels without the Crypto key in it to enable the P(Y)-code Military channels. Really, the key to getting good GPS reception is just if you have a good receiver or not. Unless LightSquared has their way with the FCC of course. Then you'd may as well kiss low-end GPS goodbye according to the Air Force, who operate the GPS system. Generally I dont trust network operators, but the Air Force has no real financial incentive to say that. They don't make any money off GPS, the Space Industry and GPS equipment manufacturers do. Granted the Space Industry is Boeing and Lockheed-Martin (SpaceX isn't quite there yet in my opinion, very close though and they'll do more in 5 years to reinvigorate the industry, which is WAY overdue) and they do give financial incentives to the Air Force in just about every way imaginable. But even then, the Air Force isnt making money from the system. Hell they're actually saving money. Inertial Navigation systems were clumsy and expensive, and nowadays they're highly accurate but still expensive.
Now, theoretically you could make a publicly available civil positioning system based off of WiFi or Wireless Telephony that would work pretty well and in fact I know the GSM standard carriers do this based on their towers in North America for E911 location finding. Google may well be doing this for precisely that reason, as an alternative to GPS with the same level of accuracy AND an API to sell, like they're doing with Google Maps now.
I would respectfully suggest that the antenna is the most important element in any GPS system, for no matter how good a receiver is, without a decent signal, no receive will work.
Antennae on any cell/handphone is a compromise at best, nothing works better than an optimised antenna dedicated to a single purpose.
And cells aren't always the greatest locators. government here has mandated that certain levels of service must be maintained as the Traffic Police, along with the Internal Security police, use certain networks for national communications.
As a result several cellco's have fleets of mobile cell base stations, over 200, that drive from one location to another to meet this government mandate. Recently there was another popular bull festival held in the north of he country and several cell base identifiers there were those I had seen in SaiGon for the Tet festival. These vehicles are also deployed during floods and other natural disasters or when there is a cell base failure or relocation.
Whilst it is great that Google now allows us to tag WiFi access points, why couldn't they use a simple 2-character designator?
Yeah I agree with that too, I was just simplifying my point defining the Receiver as all inclusive with the antennas as part and parcel with the receiver as a whole. Antennas are very important, I remember the stupid foldable antennas we had on our radios in Afghanistan, signal reception there sucks anyway and if you have the antenna folded and strapped down you're lucky to be able to talk to the next net over geographically much less your own net while you're operating in secure mode where they frequency hop faster than a cellphone.
I was a Signals Intelligence Collector, we learn ALOT about radio engineering during our advanced training.
If you don't move far with the GPS switched off, it should not matter. The GPS will look for whichever satellites it expects to be in sight now based on the ephemeris data it has stored and the current time. That is a warm start. If the GPS is not where it was when last used, it hasn't got the correct time, or current data then it needs to cold start: searching for any satellite in view. Given the correct time, approximate position and ephemeris data, it can look for the most likely satellites rather than try each in turn including those currently on the other side of the world.
Little script that runs periodically on your PC, swaps MACs with another user and updates your router.
I'm guessing that the average domestic wifi router doesn't make it easy to update the MAC address. And we're going to need some sort of service to register with that'll do the swapping.
Maybe just a script that changes the MAC randomly. Not as much fun but it'll do the job.
You just need a computer with wifi - then broadcast beacon frames to announce whichever SSID/BSSID combo you'd like. The interesting thing to do would be to scan an area some distance away, and realistically broadcast that set of beacons, to confuse phones in the area. More complicated would be to set up a geographically diverse network, where each node scans it's surrounding networks periodically, and other nodes randomly pick a node to replicate. Extra points for spamming the Google scans.
Sounds disturbingly like work though - I'll let someone else handle the details and implementation bits.
Err, the signs are put up by the government to provide directions. Moving them would be vandalism at best.
My wifi router is my wifi router. If you want to use it for your navigation, it would be polite to ask first. And if you want to log it along with my address, slap it into a massive database and sell it to people then you can fuck right off.
Google benefit / profit (again) from our data - if they didn't they would not do it - they will sell it that the user benefits as well but Google benefits in that it encourages you to use their service. They should pay people for taking pictures of their houses and mapping their wifi routers as they are earning cash out of it.
Ghougle profit from /collating/ the infomation
Its the same as the Ordanance survey. I own a hill. The OS people collected lots of hills & made a map. Now, with a silva compass & the map if you can see my hill, & some other hill You can work out where you are.
Using my hill, which I've chosen not to hide or disguise as some other hill, and all the backbreaking work the OS did. They can charge for use of the map. I can't charge for use of my hill.
By that logic they should also charge us for using their tools. I'm certainly happier with it this way around, they can have a picture of my front door in return for the best email service on the planet, the best search, the best mapping, a half-decent RSS aggregator, a useful office suite, a great calendar, excellent photo storage/sharing, ...
So how many of you guys hide your house number on your front door? Who tapes over their car number plate ? who wears a bag over your head? ohh god forbid you should see me!1!one!
A broadcast ssid is just that, a public broadcast. Address is as address does. Time to wake up and get over it.
Am very relaxed about Google harvesting this information. It makes Android satellite navigation one of the best at finding your position. And I do not broadcast my wi-fi name anyway.
However they would have much better publicity about the database of SSIDs if they hadn't "accidentally" sucked up all the internet data in the process. That was really naughty.
Google has every right to your SSID and its location. You must always remember that YOU are BROADCASTING this information to anyone in range. It is exactly the same thing as turning on an AM or FM radio transmitter in your home or office and repeatedly speaking into the microphone, "My network is named kitty-net ... my network is named kitty-net ... my network is named kitty-net ..."
If you don't want anyone in range to know the name and location of your network, DON'T BROADCAST IT.
The fact that Google expends so many resources on maintaining the WiFi map arouses my curiosity. Android handsets could just do what many other handsets do, which is to download GPS almanac data from the connected cell phone tower. Even the old GoogleMaps used some tower data to work out a location which is accurate enough to find the closest bakery or dry cleaner.
GoogleMaps 3.0.0 (J2ME) on my phone uses tower data while the A-GPS system figures things out. In my experience, this works pretty darn well. Why would Google want to maintain its own database to which your phone must communicate when the A-GPS data is readily available from your provider?
Paris, accurate enough.
A little silly to ask people to waste six characters out of a rather limited space.
Still, it's a bit silly to think you have any expectation that your router name will remain private if you're broadcasting it to all and sundry. It's not like they can pinpoint it to your exact house either, and so what if they can? Is the fact that there is a router called "linksys" at your house, like the other thousand or so in your local area, really an impingement on your privacy?
"It's not like they can pinpoint it to your exact house either"
Can they not????? Google spy-mobile grabs your SSID/MAC address and knows your general location, You connect to the interwebs using your own wifi/router and smart phone so now they have that information, they have your browsing history as well, perhaps even details from facebook/linkedin etc.
There are lots of was to get information from databases using statistical queries, the usual example given is finding someone’s salary when you are only allowed to see aggregate data. Similarly, tack down a tally-man (the people who monitor votes at elections) and see how they analyse data, you be surprised what that can figure out about the political views of people living in a couple of streets.
As usual a lot of people are missing the point, ‘knowing’ things about particular people is not an issue, its what you do with the information is the issue, and google are still building their database.
No, they cannot. Or at least, with GPS turned off, the tablet thinks I'm somewhere.. err.. in the street. Maybe. Or in the fields nearby. Or by the local Tesco. Perhaps. When that huge blue circle calms down a bit and finds a fix a little more accurate than "err, somewhere between Liverpool and Manchester".
In cities and other hugely built-up and wirelessly connected areas it's a little more accurate. It actually pinpointed me as being in the correct university building down to about 10m, though the fact there's a honking great phone mast outside and the entire campus is saturated in 2.4 and 5ghz access points probably helped. Anywhere else, wifi and cell-tower-only location is about as accurate as trying to hit the bullseye using a dart made out of jelly, sellotaped to an RPG, from half a mile away.
As I said though, even if the thing does know that a router is in your house, what privacy issue is there? It's not like you can't randomise the MAC address by nagivating to 192.168.x.1 and logging in to change it periodically, if you're concerned. Or maybe just not broadcasting to everyone in range that you have a router. As someone mentioned above, this is a little like keying up your CB and shouting "My Network Name Is FooNet" into channel 19 over and over. If it's government intrusion you're worried about, you'd best cut the cable leading into your house right now because I can guarantee that the various investigative services have far better ways of finding out what porn you're into. Usually by sticking a tap on the ISP end.
Maybe I should change my tablet's portable AP SSID to "AbusingThirtyTwoCharactersLimits"?
Well, it's been interesting. Switching every piece of hardware and all routers to _nomap takes ages, but obviously that is to be expected, it's not like Google wanted to make it easy for you to opt out. In any case, at least I got to review the entire setup, so it should be good for the next six months or so.
people are wondering why you are distrusting Google, because clearly you have no idea what this all means and just assume they are stealing stuff from your wifi. (due to sloppy/sensationalist reporting and technically illiterate readers).
The reality is YOU are broadcasting where your are from your router, not just to google, but the whole world. Google are taking advantage of that and tieing it up to GPS locations and using that to make everyone's world a better place.
I hope you don't own a smartphone, as undoubtedly, you will be using the result of this data all day long....
really? so I have to reconfigure all my kit just for THEIR requirements?
no, this should be an opt-in system , NOT an opt-out
alternatively, they should just auto-add anything with a default SSID. netgear, tsunami, belking54g, linksys etc - those people are just asking for it ;-)
The new Smartmeters, which for some reason the UK wants YOU to pay for, use a mesh radio network - many of which operate in the 900 MHz band, conveniently close to cell frequencies.
They use burst transmissions and some have been clocked as transmitting 10,000 times a day. With meters in every house, location accuracy could be quite impressive.
At one watt ouitput, people who worry about cell/handset radiation will have a whole new concern!
They already sucked up all the data. Are they always going around sucking and sucking until all the gravity has been replaced? Not that it matters to me, I'm "lucky" and can't find a wifi router that lasts more than 10 months or so anyway. Maybe I'll call the next one "starbucks", "verizon" or "free_google_wifi".
My non-GPS/3G/GPRS enabled cheapo tablet (Advent Vega running Vegacomb.....vert nice thanks) is still pretty good at establishing my location thanks to Google's wi-fi location logging.
So, against the (understandable) grain of opinion here, I'm quite happy for Google to carry on as they are.
Yeah yeah, thumbs down I know...
How would you feel about having to opt-in to having your web page added to a search engine? Or does the current system work fine, and a nice little robots.txt works to exclude you from the bots? This is just the same (although I'd prefer something snappy like "_nm") and 99.999999% of people wont care, it's all public information anyway