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Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

I have only just became aware of all this today and I really cannot understand it. How could Google have "accidently" been collecting data from unsecured networks through a "bug in the software"?? Clearly this is total rubbish?
What legitimate reason could they possibly have had for installing hardware and software in these cars aimed at connecting to unsecured wireless networks?
One of the cars has obviously gone right past my house several years ago but despite having two high powered antennas, thankfully I have always had both networks well secured.
On another quite funny point, I used Chrome for this post and its built in spell checker thinks that the word Google is a spelling mistake  Grin
17 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 7,154
Thanks: 54
Fixes: 2
Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

Quote from: Sean
On another quite funny point, I used Chrome for this post and its built in spell checker thinks that the word Google is a spelling mistake  Grin

So does the Thunderbird/Firefox!!
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

Yes, but Chrome is made by Google which is why I thought this was so funny.
magnetism2772
Grafter
Posts: 983
Registered: 06-06-2010

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

I didnt like the crome browser, it took ages to load and wasn't very fast
dont forget to try other browsers , as its competing with about 2000 other web browsers for journeying the net
sometimes I read the page source of every web site I visit and check for spyware code
My anti virus deletes everything
the secret to computing is to just go online just to read the daily papers
and keep your anti virus and firewall software up to date daily
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

I personally still like IE but at work I use Chrome, Firefox and IE at the same time as they are better at different things. I find Chrome very fast for general browsing, Firefox has a better highlight all (control-F) option and IE runs a video streaming web app I built better than other browsers I have tried. Strange I know to use three browsers at once but that is using three monitors and the system works for me.
As for internet security, I cannot remember the last time I had a virus issue with any of my own computers despite visiting some of the most dodgy sites on the internet, torrent sites, software patches etc.
AVG free, a bit of experience and common sense works for me in this area.
As I do part time computer repairs, I honestly cannot understand how people end up with their computers in such a complete mess with virus infections. I can freshly reinstall a computer with Windows, all latest updates, AVG etc. and provide advice to the user, only to have the computer return two weeks later completely destroyed with viruses again!
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,551
Thanks: 195
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

Quote from: Petlew
So does the Thunderbird/Firefox!!

My Thunderbird doesn't (3.1.6) so long as I spell it with a capital 'G'.  I use a US dictionary which is the answer Smiley
magnetism2772
Grafter
Posts: 983
Registered: 06-06-2010

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

I'm using the free  pale moons project  web browser
its firefox  , minus all the add on's
except it  does have a spell checker
I would suggest any browser that your unsure about using
just delete it ,
there are numerous free browsers that can be downloaded from sites on the internet
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

and thats probably why the BBC video didnt work for you
magnetism2772
Grafter
Posts: 983
Registered: 06-06-2010

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

revisted  the site with standard firefox
and the video's do run
then retried watching them in pale moon
it begins to show the content of the video  then the program is interrupted
then it says the content seems not to be working
but pale moon normally shows video content ok
mattskills
Newbie
Posts: 7
Registered: 14-10-2010

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

It's the fault of the people who haven't secured their networks really, I'm guessing the google cars where picking up wifi signals as it was recieving and transmiting its own signals for legit purposes, I don't think some people understand that their internet connection is being broadcast potentialy over their whole street, Even with a cordless phone your neighbours could pick up the frequency on their radio tuner and listen to your entire conversation as if you where live on the radio.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

I would imagine that 90% of people with wireless in their homes have absolutely no idea of the implications of the security settings or lack of. In my experience the general public has very little understanding of IT in general, never mind wireless security. Unfortunately in the early stages on Wi-Fi most devices where supplied with encryption turned off by default. That is no longer the case now as far as I can see in most instances.
I still think Google is responsible for the issue. Based on the amount of imagery gathered by the Google cars, I don't see how they could have been uploading this on the move using wi-fi or otherwise. I would have imagined that the images were stored in the cars along with the GPS info and uploaded at a later point. I really cannot understand how or why they had equipment and software onboard that would automatically connect to unsecured networks and as claimed, retrieve data from computers on those networks. I do not believe this can possibly be any sort of mistake or accident.
This has to be some sort of very underhand data collection experiment that they are now trying to cover up.
As for cordless phones, I wouldn't be concerned about those as dect has been the standard for quite a few years now.
Simon_M
Grafter
Posts: 684
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

Quote from: Sean
What legitimate reason could they possibly have had for installing hardware and software in these cars aimed at connecting to unsecured wireless networks?

I ought to research it properly, I suppose, but I have a life to lead & can't manage to get sufficiently worked up about it, but ...
I think the story was that they were collecting location details of WiFi networks & logging them on their maps. Then when you are later using Google Maps & it's location services on a device with Wi-Fi enabled, but without GPS & only your phone cell info for location, Google can refine your location for you by checking for active wireless routers it recognises. Note that in neither case is any connection made through the Wi-Fi network, only the fact of it's existence. That may be only an approximation of the story - any one want to research it further?
Where it went wrong was that they recorded some of the open traffic flowing through the network, rather than just the 'announcement' details.
Whether it was down to accident, incompetence or evil (i.e. commercial gain) intent, depends on one's view of Google & your belief in conspiracy theories. Personally, I'm keeping an open mind until someone produces credible evidence of benefit to Google.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,236
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

That is an interesting explanation but surely it cannot be legal for Google to be using residential wireless connections to help pinpoint locations without the knowledge or consent of the networks owner?
This story also falls down as many wireless routers will change location during their lifespan if people move house, making this an unreliable system.
The locations of public networks like BT Openzone are already freely available.
I generally don't believe in conspiracy theories but with the current information available, Google's activities do look questionable.
Simon_M
Grafter
Posts: 684
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

Quote from: Sean
surely it cannot be legal for Google to be using residential wireless connections to help pinpoint locations without the knowledge or consent of the networks owner?

I can't think of any legal reason why not. The whole point of the information is to announce the network's presence. I have a number on my house door so people know which house is which. I also have a lock on the door to make sure only the people I want to actually come through the door.
Quote from: Sean
This story also falls down as many wireless routers will change location during their lifespan if people move house, making this an unreliable system.

That's the bit that worried me too. I couldn't see how the information could be used reliably.
I suppose now my curiosity has been aroused, I'll have to do my research. I wonder if Google has removed all reference to it from their search engine...
mattskills
Newbie
Posts: 7
Registered: 14-10-2010

Re: Google Street View Cars Wi-Fi contrevery

Quote from: Simon
I can't think of any legal reason why not. The whole point of the information is to announce the network's presence. I have a number on my house door so people know which house is which. I also have a lock on the door to make sure only the people I want to actually come through the door.

Nice theory, hit the nail on the head there
Matt.