Google recently admitted that for the past three years its Street View project had had cars driving around our neighborhoods, quietly mapping streets, collecting our Wi-Fi network information, and gathering sample payload data. Now the company says it is sorry about collecting the data, and says the data was never used in any of the their products.
This is what an audit of the WiFi network data gathered by Google Street View cars found: [I]t’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products.
However, we will typically have collected only fragments of payload data because: our cars are on the move; someone would need to be using the network as a car passed by; and our in-car WiFi equipment automatically changes channels roughly five times a second. In addition, we did not collect information traveling over secure, password-protected WiFi networks.
Supposedly Google never actually intended to collect this data. Instead it was a result of some code that was written as part of an experimental project and included in the Street View cars’ “software-although the project leaders did not want, and had no intention of using, payload data.” Google is apparently very sorry
for what happened and will be grounding all Street View cars until the issue is resolved and deleting the collected data “appropriately”.
Source: NY Times.