Snarfing Data

I have kept quiet about the hoopla around Google’s inhalation of user data while it was mapping WiFi access point SSIDs. But this piece in the Washington Post annoyed me a little, actually it was something a lawmaker said which annoyed me. This lawmaker was talking about calling Google in for a hearing at the same time betraying a singular lack of knowledge as to what it actually going on:

“This is deeply troubling for a company that bases its business model on gathering consumer data,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), one of three legislators who questioned the company on its Street View misstep. “As we are contemplating privacy legislation in the committee, I think this matter warrants a hearing, at minimum.”

The first thing is that the data was accessible because it was in the clear, not secured, no password, no encryption, nothing. Basically someone was holding a conversation in public and someone happened to pass by and overheard what was going on. The consumer has to bear some responsibility for not securing their WiFi access point. After all they can all be secured, I have yet to see a WiFi router which does not allow the user to select some level of encryption and set a password.

The second thing is that there is little value is in this data, Google collects search logs which are far more valuable to it.

I am not sure when this thing will blow over, Google has not been exemplary here but consumers have to bear part of the responsibility.


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