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Google Admits to Inadvertent Data-Collecting
Category : General 16 May 2010 01:49 AM | Industry News
According to Google, it has been found during a review that samples of payload data have been mistakenly collected from open networks. The concern regarding potential privacy breaches would be increased due to the admittance of Google. It has been reported that as soon as Google become aware of the blunder its Street View cars from gathering wi-fi information were grounded along with separating out the data on its network. Google has openly admits its mistake and furthermore stated that Google engineering team always strive hard to earn the users trust, however, it is obvious that Google is intensely aware that they failed here poorly.
It admitted to collecting certain kinds of data around the world that identify Wi-Fi networks in order to help improve its mapping products. But the company explicitly said it did not collect or store so-called “payload data” – the actual information being transmitted by users over unprotected networks.
On Friday, Google said the request from a German authority had prompted the company to conduct an internal investigation of "everything we have been collecting," according to Eustace.
"It's now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks,"
In 2006 an engineer working on an experimental WiFi project wrote a piece of code that sampled all categories of publicly broadcast WiFi data," Google's Senior VP, Engineering & Research Alan Eustace wrote. "A year later, when our mobile team started a project to collect basic WiFi network data like SSID information and MAC addresses using Google’s Street View cars, they included that code in their software—although the project leaders did not want, and had no intention of using, payload data."
Google has asked a third party to review what was collected and confirm that it was deleted. It also plans to review its procedures to ensure something similar doesn't happen in the future. The company is turning this whole scenario into a lesson: "This incident highlights just how publicly accessible open, non-password-protected WiFi networks are today."