Google Handles Privacy Blunder Well

May 17, 2010 • 8:00 am | comments (5) by | Filed Under Other Google Topics

On Friday Google wrote that they made a huge mistake when it came to collecting Wifi data in their Street View cars. They said they unknowingly collected snippets of payload data (internet transmissions) as they drove through your neighborhoods. That means, as Google's street view cars drove past your home, they not only collected publicly broadcast SSID information and MAC addresses but they also pick up on a bit of what you were doing on that public network for the time they drove by your house.

Now, the data itself probably sounded like a mix of incomprehensible information. Imagine having a line of people all having their own conversations all standing in a line. Then you walk up that line at normal speed, trying to understand the conversations. It is mostly incomprehensible but nevertheless it was being captured.

Google admitted their wrong doing and took steps to immediately prevent this from happening again. As I explained in my Search Engine Land post:

Google added that, Google has made a decision to completely stop using the WiFi data collection technology with Street View cars in the future. Those wifi collecting cars will be taken out of the rotation and not be used due to the privacy concerns expressed globally. In addition to these steps, Google promised to ask a third party to audit the software at issue and conduct internal reviewing procedures to ensure that the controls are in place to prevent these issues in the future.

I think the steps they took and will be taking are solid.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld, DigitalPoint Forums & Google Maps Help.

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