Ep 47 of 2011
Cast your mind back what seems to be a lifetime ago, but just over a year ago, Google was in the news for collection WIFI information as their street view camera cars roamed the planet. At the time, there was denial from Google over the collection with the company saying it was left over code by a developer that had found its way into collection software. Well, they’re back, but this time they’re telling us that they are collecting WIFI details, and what’s more, they’re telling us how to opt out.
According to Google It's simple: all you need to do is append "_nomap" to the name of the Wi-Fi network. So your home network, let’s call it “ttr” becomes “ttr_nomap”. Now this seems pretty straight forward to tech savvy operators, but what about the mums and dads of this world who are oblivious to the data capturing and mapping wants or the search giant?
Also, it’s worth mentioning that Australian privacy laws prevent companies for adding you to databases without your consent. We’re an ‘opt in’ country which means that if you want to be a part of something, you have to put your hand up – not have a company tell you you’re in by default. Only one other precedent comes to mind which was when Telstra turned on it’s “Calling Number Display” which showed the recipient of a phone call the number which was calling it. But that all happened in a day before privacy was such a concern.
The question needs to be asked why Google wants to collect WIFI information. Apparently the information is used for location references for devices which don’t have GPS or Mobile phone connectivity. Devices like iPods.
According to those in the know, Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including access points, but also PCs, iPhones, iPads and Android phones, transmit a unique hardware identifier, called a MAC address, to anyone within a radius of a few hundred feet.
Android devices collect these MAC addresses, and beam them back to Google to be used in the company's geolocation database — a useful feature that allows faster location fixes for mobile phones. It’s worth noting that Apple, and Microsoft operate similar databases, but do not provide an opt-out mechanism. And you all thought big brother was a crappy television show.
This week on Tech Talk Radio
Adam Turner looks at Ultrabooks, Susan Mclean joins us in the studio to talk about developments in cyber safety, and James Gardiner talks digital cinema. Also Telstra to invest $100m in video distribution, 1800MHz is a prime band for LTE or 4G worldwide, and Microsoft revises forced reboots in Windows 8.
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