Google Exposing Phone Locations Visible On Web

Google has taken steps to limit the disclosure of the locations of  WiFi Devices and the move by Google comes after the Mountain View, Calif.-based company was criticized for the way it made a database assembled by Android phones and Street View cars available to the public, even though it could link a geographical location with a unique hardware address of a Wi-Fi enabled device. The change means that Google now appears to be moving closer to the approach adopted by Apple and Microsoft and it wasn’t immediately clear what changes Google made to provide more privacy protections. The database is used to speed up geolocation fixes for mobile devices and to provide the ability to determine location for PCs that don’t have access to GPS-derived coordinates………..


Google has been forced to take action after it was reported the search giant publicises the estimated locations of millions of iPhones, laptios and other devices with wi-fi connections. The practice meant that if a user had wi-fi turned on, previous whereabouts of your device, such as your home, office, or even restaurants you frequent were visible on the web for all to see. But when it was detailed in an exclusive CNET report the practice launched a new row over embattled Google‘s privacy standards. Android phones with location services enabled on them regularly beam the hardware IDs of wi-fi devices in the area back to Google. The same happens with Microsoft, Apple and Skyhook Wireless as part of each company’s race to map the street addresses of various access points and routers around the globe, CNET explained. It means that if someone knows your hardware ID or your MAC address, they can trace a physical address that Google associates with you, such as your home or office address. It’s not easy to track down a MAC address, but anyone within 100 feet of you can record it, along with whoever else is within that range, then narrow it down. Now a Google source has told CBS News that the company is changing the way its location server processes location requests, apparently to move closer to the system used by Apple and Microsoft, which never publicise location details.



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