Google has magnanimously offered to ignore Wi-Fi hotspots that have been renamed with a trailing "_nomap" to let the snoops know what you don't want them to know. Google logs the location of Wi-Fi routers to aid its location pinpointing services, as knowing the nearest router can provide a coarse location as well as making it …
GPS is only as good as the receiver you use it with
Ill counter that if GPS is good enough for Aircraft, Shipping, and such, it should be good enough on the consumer level without WiFi as a crutch. And it is, with a good receiver at least. They're standalone and don't exactly come cheap if they're any good.
Im not sure but it seems to be that Android and iPhone manufacturers use the cheapest small GPS receivers they can get so the signal reception winds up sucking everywhere and its simply unusable indoors. I dont know if this is the case or not, as I dont know much about smartphone hardware aside from the radio transceivers and how they operate.
In the US Military we use a handheld GPS receiver called a DAGR and on several occasions playing with them indoors while I was bored, or while calibrating a few of them I noticed none of them dropped the signals even in hardened locations like my phone would. And this was on the civil channels without the Crypto key in it to enable the P(Y)-code Military channels. Really, the key to getting good GPS reception is just if you have a good receiver or not. Unless LightSquared has their way with the FCC of course. Then you'd may as well kiss low-end GPS goodbye according to the Air Force, who operate the GPS system. Generally I dont trust network operators, but the Air Force has no real financial incentive to say that. They don't make any money off GPS, the Space Industry and GPS equipment manufacturers do. Granted the Space Industry is Boeing and Lockheed-Martin (SpaceX isn't quite there yet in my opinion, very close though and they'll do more in 5 years to reinvigorate the industry, which is WAY overdue) and they do give financial incentives to the Air Force in just about every way imaginable. But even then, the Air Force isnt making money from the system. Hell they're actually saving money. Inertial Navigation systems were clumsy and expensive, and nowadays they're highly accurate but still expensive.
Now, theoretically you could make a publicly available civil positioning system based off of WiFi or Wireless Telephony that would work pretty well and in fact I know the GSM standard carriers do this based on their towers in North America for E911 location finding. Google may well be doing this for precisely that reason, as an alternative to GPS with the same level of accuracy AND an API to sell, like they're doing with Google Maps now.
If you don't move far with the GPS switched off, it should not matter. The GPS will look for whichever satellites it expects to be in sight now based on the ephemeris data it has stored and the current time. That is a warm start. If the GPS is not where it was when last used, it hasn't got the correct time, or current data then it needs to cold start: searching for any satellite in view. Given the correct time, approximate position and ephemeris data, it can look for the most likely satellites rather than try each in turn including those currently on the other side of the world.
The Antenna is as important as the Receiver
I would respectfully suggest that the antenna is the most important element in any GPS system, for no matter how good a receiver is, without a decent signal, no receive will work.
Antennae on any cell/handphone is a compromise at best, nothing works better than an optimised antenna dedicated to a single purpose.
And cells aren't always the greatest locators. government here has mandated that certain levels of service must be maintained as the Traffic Police, along with the Internal Security police, use certain networks for national communications.
As a result several cellco's have fleets of mobile cell base stations, over 200, that drive from one location to another to meet this government mandate. Recently there was another popular bull festival held in the north of he country and several cell base identifiers there were those I had seen in SaiGon for the Tet festival. These vehicles are also deployed during floods and other natural disasters or when there is a cell base failure or relocation.
Whilst it is great that Google now allows us to tag WiFi access points, why couldn't they use a simple 2-character designator?
I agree, the receiver is only a part of it
Yeah I agree with that too, I was just simplifying my point defining the Receiver as all inclusive with the antennas as part and parcel with the receiver as a whole. Antennas are very important, I remember the stupid foldable antennas we had on our radios in Afghanistan, signal reception there sucks anyway and if you have the antenna folded and strapped down you're lucky to be able to talk to the next net over geographically much less your own net while you're operating in secure mode where they frequency hop faster than a cellphone.
I was a Signals Intelligence Collector, we learn ALOT about radio engineering during our advanced training.
What about all the other mobile devices? If you think that only Google collects this information to enable fast initial location fixing then you are very much mistaken... They just happened to have had cars driving about which could collect it en-mass in the first instance.
Little coding project anyone?
Little script that runs periodically on your PC, swaps MACs with another user and updates your router.
I'm guessing that the average domestic wifi router doesn't make it easy to update the MAC address. And we're going to need some sort of service to register with that'll do the swapping.
Maybe just a script that changes the MAC randomly. Not as much fun but it'll do the job.
Easier than that
You just need a computer with wifi - then broadcast beacon frames to announce whichever SSID/BSSID combo you'd like. The interesting thing to do would be to scan an area some distance away, and realistically broadcast that set of beacons, to confuse phones in the area. More complicated would be to set up a geographically diverse network, where each node scans it's surrounding networks periodically, and other nodes randomly pick a node to replicate. Extra points for spamming the Google scans.
Sounds disturbingly like work though - I'll let someone else handle the details and implementation bits.
Yeah. That would be great fun, and when we've finished, lets run around town changing the direction of all the signs. Even better, we'll cover up all the warning signs too. That'll show, erm, us.
Re: Yeah. That would be great fun,
Err, the signs are put up by the government to provide directions. Moving them would be vandalism at best.
My wifi router is my wifi router. If you want to use it for your navigation, it would be polite to ask first. And if you want to log it along with my address, slap it into a massive database and sell it to people then you can fuck right off.
A much better idea
I named my Wi-Fi "Police Surveillance Van 2"
That should keep my pikey neighbors on their toes.
All well and good, until your router gets nicked for impersonating a Police van.....
I named mine p0rnnet256, and now the church next door stays off it.
Until Microsoft say that they will be ignoring wifis that end with something else, such as _notrack (MS always do the same things in a different way)
Perhaps '_optin' would be better - nice of them to make you change your setup to opt out.
Paranoia and Media Hype
So how many of you guys hide your house number on your front door? Who tapes over their car number plate ? who wears a bag over your head? ohh god forbid you should see me!1!one!
A broadcast ssid is just that, a public broadcast. Address is as address does. Time to wake up and get over it.
No tape, but
many cars in the USA have a see through anti-camera cover over their license plate.
Clue is in the name: "see through"
Many car drivers spend money on magnetic fuel savers also..
Fools and money and all that..
Google benefit / profit (again) from our data - if they didn't they would not do it - they will sell it that the user benefits as well but Google benefits in that it encourages you to use their service. They should pay people for taking pictures of their houses and mapping their wifi routers as they are earning cash out of it.
Ghougle profit from /collating/ the infomation
Its the same as the Ordanance survey. I own a hill. The OS people collected lots of hills & made a map. Now, with a silva compass & the map if you can see my hill, & some other hill You can work out where you are.
Using my hill, which I've chosen not to hide or disguise as some other hill, and all the backbreaking work the OS did. They can charge for use of the map. I can't charge for use of my hill.
By that logic they should also charge us for using their tools. I'm certainly happier with it this way around, they can have a picture of my front door in return for the best email service on the planet, the best search, the best mapping, a half-decent RSS aggregator, a useful office suite, a great calendar, excellent photo storage/sharing, ...
Do I look bovvered?
Am very relaxed about Google harvesting this information. It makes Android satellite navigation one of the best at finding your position. And I do not broadcast my wi-fi name anyway.
However they would have much better publicity about the database of SSIDs if they hadn't "accidentally" sucked up all the internet data in the process. That was really naughty.
The Art of Coarse Spelling
<cough> "course location"???
Google has every right to your SSID
Google has every right to your SSID and its location. You must always remember that YOU are BROADCASTING this information to anyone in range. It is exactly the same thing as turning on an AM or FM radio transmitter in your home or office and repeatedly speaking into the microphone, "My network is named kitty-net ... my network is named kitty-net ... my network is named kitty-net ..."
If you don't want anyone in range to know the name and location of your network, DON'T BROADCAST IT.
When you go out in the street on a sunny day your smiling face and shiny white teeth will be broadcast for all to see. However, that doesn't mean I can photograph you and use your image to sell my brand of toothpaste, not without your permission at least.
They don't have a right to this information.
You gave it away.
Learn the difference.
You can take it back if you want.
How did you know what my network name is?
The fact that Google expends so many resources on maintaining the WiFi map arouses my curiosity. Android handsets could just do what many other handsets do, which is to download GPS almanac data from the connected cell phone tower. Even the old GoogleMaps used some tower data to work out a location which is accurate enough to find the closest bakery or dry cleaner.
GoogleMaps 3.0.0 (J2ME) on my phone uses tower data while the A-GPS system figures things out. In my experience, this works pretty darn well. Why would Google want to maintain its own database to which your phone must communicate when the A-GPS data is readily available from your provider?
Paris, accurate enough.
They do that too. That still doesn't help much when indoors.
perhaps Satellites don't work when you are indoors... Dumbass.
If you are indoors and need a computer to find out where you are you need better pills. Or at least different ones.
I suppose it all depends. Mine works just fine around the house and in most offices. Even so, the tower location data still gets you located pretty well.
Paris works fine around the house, too.
Give it to Google to require people to add _nomap to opt out, rather than respect people's privacy by not logging unless their SSID has a _mapme suffix.
Google = Evil
32 byte limit.
A little silly to ask people to waste six characters out of a rather limited space.
Still, it's a bit silly to think you have any expectation that your router name will remain private if you're broadcasting it to all and sundry. It's not like they can pinpoint it to your exact house either, and so what if they can? Is the fact that there is a router called "linksys" at your house, like the other thousand or so in your local area, really an impingement on your privacy?
"It's not like they can pinpoint it to your exact house either"
Can they not????? Google spy-mobile grabs your SSID/MAC address and knows your general location, You connect to the interwebs using your own wifi/router and smart phone so now they have that information, they have your browsing history as well, perhaps even details from facebook/linkedin etc.
There are lots of was to get information from databases using statistical queries, the usual example given is finding someone’s salary when you are only allowed to see aggregate data. Similarly, tack down a tally-man (the people who monitor votes at elections) and see how they analyse data, you be surprised what that can figure out about the political views of people living in a couple of streets.
As usual a lot of people are missing the point, ‘knowing’ things about particular people is not an issue, its what you do with the information is the issue, and google are still building their database.
Can they not?????
No, they cannot. Or at least, with GPS turned off, the tablet thinks I'm somewhere.. err.. in the street. Maybe. Or in the fields nearby. Or by the local Tesco. Perhaps. When that huge blue circle calms down a bit and finds a fix a little more accurate than "err, somewhere between Liverpool and Manchester".
In cities and other hugely built-up and wirelessly connected areas it's a little more accurate. It actually pinpointed me as being in the correct university building down to about 10m, though the fact there's a honking great phone mast outside and the entire campus is saturated in 2.4 and 5ghz access points probably helped. Anywhere else, wifi and cell-tower-only location is about as accurate as trying to hit the bullseye using a dart made out of jelly, sellotaped to an RPG, from half a mile away.
As I said though, even if the thing does know that a router is in your house, what privacy issue is there? It's not like you can't randomise the MAC address by nagivating to 192.168.x.1 and logging in to change it periodically, if you're concerned. Or maybe just not broadcasting to everyone in range that you have a router. As someone mentioned above, this is a little like keying up your CB and shouting "My Network Name Is FooNet" into channel 19 over and over. If it's government intrusion you're worried about, you'd best cut the cable leading into your house right now because I can guarantee that the various investigative services have far better ways of finding out what porn you're into. Usually by sticking a tap on the ISP end.
Maybe I should change my tablet's portable AP SSID to "AbusingThirtyTwoCharactersLimits"?
Just finished switching to _nomap
Well, it's been interesting. Switching every piece of hardware and all routers to _nomap takes ages, but obviously that is to be expected, it's not like Google wanted to make it easy for you to opt out. In any case, at least I got to review the entire setup, so it should be good for the next six months or so.
Robot Exclusion Protocol
“Hi! I'm from Google. I'm a Googlebot! I will not kill you.”
my SSID is called '_nomap'... will it be mapped or not ? do I have to rename it to _nomap_nomap ?
For the lulz
Rename your SSID as virus_server or something.
Hold on a sec...
I hide my SSID for security reasons.
If I want to prevent my MAC/BSSID from being used by Google I have to unhide my SSID and add _nomap?
Explains why google maps etc keeps putting me in the UK not Canada when I moved
No problem. Showing my age I guess.
Mine's the one with the Cat 5 cable in the pocket
And people wonder why I'm distrusting Google more every day (or so it seems).
people are wondering why you are distrusting Google, because clearly you have no idea what this all means and just assume they are stealing stuff from your wifi. (due to sloppy/sensationalist reporting and technically illiterate readers).
The reality is YOU are broadcasting where your are from your router, not just to google, but the whole world. Google are taking advantage of that and tieing it up to GPS locations and using that to make everyone's world a better place.
I hope you don't own a smartphone, as undoubtedly, you will be using the result of this data all day long....
RENAME *MY* wireless AP SSID?
really? so I have to reconfigure all my kit just for THEIR requirements?
no, this should be an opt-in system , NOT an opt-out
alternatively, they should just auto-add anything with a default SSID. netgear, tsunami, belking54g, linksys etc - those people are just asking for it ;-)
Perhaps Google will want to database Smartmeter Mesh networks?
The new Smartmeters, which for some reason the UK wants YOU to pay for, use a mesh radio network - many of which operate in the 900 MHz band, conveniently close to cell frequencies.
They use burst transmissions and some have been clocked as transmitting 10,000 times a day. With meters in every house, location accuracy could be quite impressive.
At one watt ouitput, people who worry about cell/handset radiation will have a whole new concern!
Set the 'Beacon Interval' to about 1000ms and the Googly snoops will have a hard time seeing idle access points from a moving vehicle. It saves battery power on WiFi-assisted cellphones too. The only downside is erratic packet latency.
Mine shows up in the next town anyway.
lol. Am I bovvered?
They already sucked up all the data. Are they always going around sucking and sucking until all the gravity has been replaced? Not that it matters to me, I'm "lucky" and can't find a wifi router that lasts more than 10 months or so anyway. Maybe I'll call the next one "starbucks", "verizon" or "free_google_wifi".