Linked by Howard Fosdick on Mon 21st Nov 2011 07:48 UTC
Google Last June, CNET disclosed that Google collects and publishes the estimated locations of millions of phones, laptops, and other Wi-Fi devices. All without their owner's knowledge or permission. Google has finally announced how to exclude your home network from this database. Simply append "_nomap" to its name. Details over at CNET. Left unsaid is why the burden is placed on millions of individuals to opt-out, instead of on perpetrator Google.
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Thom_Holwerda
Member since:
2005-06-29

They're not advertising your router - at least, not more so than the phonebook is advertising your address. You broadcast your SSID in much the same way you broadcast your house number. Should people who walk by your house cover their eyes so they don't see your house number? Should people with wifi on their phones who walk by turn wifi off because otherwise they'll pick up your SSID?

I'm not saying you don't have a right to keep it from Google - because you do - but I don't think it is unreasonable to expect some action on your part to keep it as such, the same way it takes action on your part to get a secret phone number (my landline is level 3 or 4 secret). My SSID is not broadcast at all - an even better solution.

Reply Parent Score: 5

benali72 Member since:
2008-05-03

Router defaults are always set to Broadcast SSID. You can not expect the typical user to know that they have to set this OFF or rename their network to avoid Google's prying eyes.

And what about Google's tracking and publication of the location of Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including PCs, iPhones, iPads, and Android phones?

I think UZ64's outrage is justified.

Reply Parent Score: 1

UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

They're not advertising your router - at least, not more so than the phonebook is advertising your address. You broadcast your SSID in much the same way you broadcast your house number. Should people who walk by your house cover their eyes so they don't see your house number? Should people with wifi on their phones who walk by turn wifi off because otherwise they'll pick up your SSID?

I'm not saying you don't have a right to keep it from Google - because you do - but I don't think it is unreasonable to expect some action on your part to keep it as such, the same way it takes action on your part to get a secret phone number (my landline is level 3 or 4 secret). My SSID is not broadcast at all - an even better solution.

I don't mind if people in close proximity to where I live can see my wireless connection; it's locked with a long WPA passphrase containing both capital and lower case letters and numbers anyway, and I seriously doubt that anyone within a five-mile radious would know the first thing about breaking into a computer network. Plus, they would have to stay within the router's range to stay connected if they did try to crack into it; they couldn't just do it while driving down the street. That handful of local people on their cell phones walking down the street, who can just as easily see my house address as you pointed out? Well, let them see my SSID; it's highly unlikely they would even try to breach a "locked" access point, and if they did they would give up fast.

The benefits of broadcasting the SSID outweigh the disadvantages here, or so I thought, with it much easier for my friends to find the network and then give me the device to enter the password. It also allows automatic detection and connection when in range. In fact, someone who lives nearby who tries to break into my house would likely be caught by law enforcement much quicker and easier than a traveler from, say, Maine. But I'm not talking about the neighborhood--I'm talking about the whole god damn Internet here.

The problem is, Google is actively PUTTING MY ROUTER'S SSID AND WHEREABOUTS ON THE INTERNET, WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. In other words, *anyone* who wants to can pinpoint it if they really wanted to and try cracking. The whole god damn Internet has free access. And I have to add some stupid "_nomap" bullshit to my own custom SSID just to make it stop? Fuck that. Someone traveling to my state from the other side of the country? No problem, just check Google to see that I have a router set up at this address. Add this new widespread public data a traveling cracker with a GPS for even easier locating of geographical locations and you've got some serious potential for problems. Google is making it easy for a traveling cracker to breach into people's home networks and computer systems. How the hell do you have no problem with this?

I don't mind my SSID being broadcasted locally. You know, as in the relatively short range that Wi-Fi covers; maybe a couple hundred feet, max. This is how it's supposed to work... or so I thought. What I do mind is it being fucking posted, along with its nearly-precise geographical location, on the fucking Internet. It's really fucking pathetic that I have to do this, but I have just disabled broadcasting on my router (running Tomato firmware 1.28). Until now, I have never felt the need to. Oh well--as long as I have an Android phone nearby, broadcasting will now be disabled. That's one hell of a crooked move, Google.

What's nice [sarcasm] about this is that even though my Android phone "knows" about my home router (SSID, passphrase) to automatically connect, it will no longer connect to it to use high-speed Internet access. Yay, Google. Motherfuckers. Now my problem is, trying to get Android to connect to this now non-broadcasting network; since the phone doesn't "see" it it uses the slow cellular network, and I see no screen that will allow me to manually enter the SSID and connect.

And by the way--about your phone book example: I don't have a landline telephone, but I sure as hell don't give my cell phone number out like candy during trick-or-treat either. Very few people know it, and I intend to keep it that way. And you know, some people actually pay extra to NOT have their phone/address posted publicly in the phone book. You know, unlisted. Some people do actually care about privacy and security.

Reply Parent Score: 4

UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Hmm... looks like half the time the automatic censoring doesn't work. Oh well.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

In other words, *anyone* who wants to can pinpoint it if they really wanted to and try cracking.


The SSID is not needed for attempting to crack it, they'd need the IP address for that and afaik Google does not show the IP address. In fact, knowing the SSID makes no difference for anyone not in your local vicinity and those who are in your vicinity could find it out by themselves.

Someone traveling to my state from the other side of the country? No problem, just check Google to see that I have a router set up at this address.


Yea, cuz that wouldn't show up ANYWAY when he got to where you live. Besides, knowing that there's a router/access-point with a certain SSID in a certain location is useless information for this purpose.

Google is making it easy for a traveling cracker to breach into people's home networks and computer systems.


The information Google provides does in no way make this easier. As long as you're not in the local area the information is meaningless and once you are in the local area the information is already available without Google.

And you know, some people actually pay extra to NOT have their phone/address posted publicly in the phone book. You know, unlisted. Some people do actually care about privacy and security.


Why is that you have to request explicitly to not be listed? Why would you have to pay to not be listed?
This is even more complicated than just adding _nomap and at least Google isn't charging you.

Reply Parent Score: 3

B. Janssen Member since:
2006-10-11

The problem is, Google is actively PUTTING MY ROUTER'S SSID AND WHEREABOUTS ON THE INTERNET,


That's the core issue here. Their competitors, e. g. Apple, harvest the same data for obvious reasons but don't make them public. The interesting question is, why does Google feel the need to publish this data?

WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.

That's not the issue, that's just what itches you. Your SSID is public, YOU broadcast it to all the world to know. Deal with it, in the "internet age" the term "local" has lost a good deal of its meaning. Maybe you can now appreciate the trouble some governments have with the internet a little more.

What's nice [sarcasm] about this is that even though my Android phone "knows" about my home router (SSID, passphrase) to automatically connect, it will no longer connect to it to use high-speed Internet access. Yay, Google. Motherfuckers. Now my problem is, trying to get Android to connect to this now non-broadcasting network; since the phone doesn't "see" it it uses the slow cellular network, and I see no screen that will allow me to manually enter the SSID and connect.


Apparently you fail to realize that the database is fed with information coming from YOUR Android phone. Thus, if you connect your Android to your hidden WLAN, Google will know about it and you have gained nothing (but a less effective WLAN).

Reply Parent Score: 3