Google to surrender data collected over unsecured networks

Image Courtesy: blog.redfin.com

The New York Times reported today that, despite earlier refusals, Google has now agreed to turn over data that was collected from unsecured Wi-Fi networks while taking snapshots for Google Street View.  Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, will share the collected personal data with officials in Germany, Spain and France.  The data collected over unsecured networks is said to contain snapshots of personal information including emails, bank account numbers, etc.  Schmidt said in a Thursday interview in London, that he also plans to “make public the results of internal and external audits of its Wi-Fi data collection practices” (NYT).

Despite the European outrage over the Wi-Fi data collection issue, the U.S. seems to be a lot less disgruntled over the situation.  While the FCC is taking a look at the issue, there is an obvious difference in the reaction of the U.S.  There have been a few lawsuits filed against Google in the U.S., with one judge in Oregon in giving Google 10 days (from 6/3) to hand over data collected over unsecured Wi-Fi networks.  However, the U.S does seem considerably less upset with Google, from an official standpoint.

From all bad, however, comes good and I think that it is important to look at what we have learned from the Google situation.  Wi-Fi network security is extreamly important.  I can pick up at least one unsecured network from one of my Wi-Fi enabled devices, most of the time.  Free “hotspots” in cafes, stores and even hotels can be unsecure and not properly monitored.  Not only is Wi-Fi networks security important to protect our personal data, but it has also become important as goverments find it necessary to begin to create laws and issue levels of responsibility to owners and operators of Wi-Fi networks.

Look at Germany, for example.  They recently passed litigation that will hold operators of unsecured Wi-Fi networks responsible for what occurs on that network (such as illegal downloading).  Take CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act – read more) in the U.S.  This law places an enormous amount of responsibility on the owners/ operators of Wi-Fi networks.  So as Wi-Fi becomes the primary use for telecommunication and mobile networking, goverments are going to tighten up restrictions on what is acceptable and what network security is necessary.  So, not only is in important to protect our personal information, but network owners and operators of Wi-Fi hotspots need to be concerned about security as well.

Spot On’s Wi-Fi networks use the highest standards of security to protect your personal information.  So, a situation like Google StreetView sniffing personal data cannot happen with Spot On’s network.  On our network, we do not allow a computer to talk to another computer.  In the instance of StreetView – a personal computer, over an unsecured Wi-Fi network had the ability to talk to the StreetView car – on a Spot On Network, the user computer can talk to the Internet, but is blocked from being able to talk to another computer… thus, information over our Wi-Fi network can never be sniffed out.  Read more about our security.

As for owners and operators of Wi-Fi hotspots – we urge you to become familiar with CALEA and what it means for your level of responsibility.  If you are self-operating a Wi-Fi networks, that is, you have a router and are offering Wi-Fi as amenity… you need to be aware of your responsibility for what occurs over your network and who accesses your networks.  Spot On Wi-Fi networks take that responsibility off our your back.  We are fully CALEA Compliant and monitor our network so that your Wi-Fi network is legal.  Not sure if you are CALEA Compliant?  Contact us for more information and we can help to access the security of your Wi-Fi network, whether you are a small cafe offering free Wi-Fi for a large-scale high-rise apartment building.

All in all, we can learn a lot from the Google situation – it is important that we are aware and responsibile for the security of our Wi-Fi networks, not only for our personal networks – but for when we are providing Wi-Fi for others.

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2 Responses to “Google to surrender data collected over unsecured networks”

  1. Random Says:

    How about a concept of indentation or paragraphs?

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