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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B. Janssen
Member since:

Ah, yes, disable the BEACON and switch all your stations into PROBE mode, that will certainly increase network security and performance.

Snarkiness aside, if Google is really only picking up BEACON frames and no other traffic they would still have to look at each frame to realize it's not BEACON. All other frames originating from your wireless network, like the thousands of PROBE frames you get if you disable BEACON, also carry the SSID and can just as easily be harvested.

It may be more gratifying (and potentially effective) to change your SSID to "ScrewGoogle". Or "ScrewGoogle_nomap", if you are concerned about this data getting even more public ;) But face it, running a WLAN means being a radio broadcaster. Everybody can listen in and everybody with the simplest equipment can triangulate your position. Don't want that? Don't broadcast.

Reply Parent Score: 4

shotsman Member since:

I prefer 'BogOffGoogle'

From my home office I can see 26 different WLANS's with a broadcast SSID.

- Most of them are on Channel 9 or 11.(sigh)
- 10 of them are BT Home Hubs
- 12 of them are Virgin
- 1 NETGEAR (this is connected to a Virgin Modem)
- That leaves three lans where the owner has changed the SSID.

There are also a small number of lans that have a hidden SSID. I know this because I installed them.

If I were BT or Sky or Virgin, I'd be thanking Google for drawing a map where not only their kit is installed but that of their major competitors.

How long do we have to wait for a privacy lawsuit then?

Reply Parent Score: 3

JamesBroadhead Member since:

Shouldn't you be glad that they're all on the same channel, so the other end of the spectrum is free for you? ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

B. Janssen Member since:

There are also a small number of lans that have a hidden SSID. I know this because I installed them.

Seriously, you are doing your customers a disservice by disabling BEACON (i. e. SSID broadcast). It slows down the WLAN and increases security not one bit. Any half-arsed wardriver will find your WLAN anyway.

Also, with regards to the Google Maps issue, Google gathers the SSIDs by getting them sent from Android devices. While an Android device may miss a hidden WLAN, it obviously will not miss the WLAN it is connected to. So you can hide your own private WLAN as much as you like, your Android device will send the SSID to Google anyway.

But that's not the core issue either. Mobile devices use this database to locate themselves without GPS (or faster than GPS alone could), which is a useful and energy saving method. The problem only exists because Google, unlike, say Apple, makes the database public. If Google would keep the database under wraps like the other big players (e. g. Apple, MS) only Google could use the data. Bad enough, but that's the trade-off.

Reply Parent Score: 3