Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Google reveals too much again

Originally posted 06/20/2011 on lubbockonline.com

Declan Mcullagh of the Privacy Inc blog at cnet.com reports that Google and Shyhook Wireless are both reporting the location of Wifi hotspots - which can include your cell phone or laptop. Other companies, including Apple and Microsoft, gather that information, but don't make it public:

Only Google and Skyhook Wireless, however, make their location databases linking hardware IDs to street addresses publicly available on the Internet, which raises novel privacy concerns when the IDs they're tracking are mobile. If someone knows your hardware ID, he may be able to find a physical address that the companies associate with you--even if you never intended it to become public.

Google isn't saying whether they are gathering MAC addresses on devices that aren't acting as hotspots. If they are, it will be another privacy snafu for Google. After the pounding from Google Streetview cars gathering data from unsecured wifi points, you would think extra effort would have been made to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. You would be wrong. There is legitimate reason to be gathering the data - it helps with GPS services - but there is no reason for it to be public on the web.

Come on Google, you're smarter than that.