Google Claims Voluntary Opt Out Is Doing Us A Favor
So… please read this post from Google regarding wireless access points. If I am interpreting it correctly – without all the “hey we’re doing something new and cool that will make the world a better place” corporate cruft:
- Google is building a database of all WiFi access points, supposedly to improve location tracking, but who really knows.
- Your WiFi access point is opted-in by default. If you want to opt out, please add “_nomap” to the wireless network name.
Which is lame. Google should take into consideration the default setup of home wireless routers these days. I just set up an AT&T UVerse 2Wire thingie which I thought was just a modem/router, but also has wireless functionality. I seriously had no idea. I was able to figure this out when hooking up the Airport Extreme, and therefore disabled the 2Wire’s WiFi – I think. But by default out of the box, and likely for the vast majority of Uverse users, it’s on, and possibly broadcasting publicly. I had to turn all that off, and even then, I’m not sure I did it correctly.
And then I think about the aged relatives with wide open networks, and all the publicly-broadcast networks viewable with the iPhone, everywhere. A heck of a lot of people opting in to Google’s tracking without even realizing they’re doing so.
Anyhow, I’m not even sure what sort of WiFi locations Google is tracking. Only businesses? Only networks that broadcast publicly? Only unencrypted networks? I would imagine hiding the network name and adding encryption would be a pretty clear signal that a network isn’t public, but I’m not sure.
I feel the opt-out situation should be flipped around. Google should only collect locatio information on open WiFi networks set up by businesses, and only those with an explicit opt in – how about “_yesmap” appended to the network name. That’s the only approach that makes any sort of common sense.
I may just put “_nomap_screw_you_google” on the end of our 2Wire thing as a statement – if I can figure out how to do it…