back to article Google responds to privacy probe

Google has responded to a letter from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce which wrote asking what action the company had taken over its harvesting of private Wi-Fi data. The online advertising and search giant said it was unable to tell the committee how many networks it had stored payload data from, or how many US …

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I have a question...

Why is the collection of SSIDs and MAC addresses of networks which have been purposely set as "secure" and to not broadcast said SSID, not illegal?

If I set up a 3-foot high fence around my yard with a sign that says "private, keep out," surely it is no excuse to jump this fence just because it is physically possible to do so, right?

-dZ.

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Anonymous Coward

Erm...

Because anyone can SEE a fence - and not jump it. Anyone can SEE WiFi traffic, and not do anything with it. An SSID is only revealed if something issues a probe for it, whilst it's being looked at, thus tying the MAC to the ESSID request.

Your analogy is akin to being nicked for hearing someone else talking in the same room - you could tell their sex, age and position in the room, without listening to what they said....

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Gold badge

@DZ-Jay

if you set up an x-foot tall fence that saud "private, keep out," then Google could still hover a spy-cam over it and post all the pictures it finds online for the world to see.

At least in the US.

Do no what now?

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improvement

A better analogy is a delivery company photographing front gates/doors to help delivery only to catch a glimpse into a places because the front door was open.

No they should not have stored the data, but then again, no deliberate attempt to enter private networks was made.

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Re: improvement

I'm not talking about the payload data, I'm talking about the headers.

If I *specifically* configured my network to be secure and to *not* broadcast the SSID publicly, doesn't that at least show my intent to maintain some privacy? Why is it then legal for someone to still analyse the packets of the transmission to extract the SSID from the headers?

That's why I made the analogy: the fence is 3-foot high but clearly has a sign stating the privacy intentions. It shouldn't be an excuse to jump it just because it is physically possible, when it is clearly stated that you are not welcome to do so.

-dZ.

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Phsical VS. Virtual

I mean one could argue that and I can see why and how. The fact remains this is more of virtual intrusion. I think a better analogy would be you have a sign saying private keep out but you don't have your blinds shut so you can still see in...sort of.

I believe the analogy of physically jumping the fence is more accurate to the analogy of Google cracking WPA or WEP keys. which they didn't. All they did was capture available broadcast information.

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