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Saturday, May 22, 2010

That Google van was doing more than taking pictures

And it's prompted a class action lawsuit right here in Portland.

Comments (15)

The plaintiff works in a "high technology field" and still chose to ignore the most basic protection for her activities, let alone any guidelines provided by her company technology policies.

Not that I agree with Google sniffing around, but I also don't believe that they should have to pay for stupidity.

Kristine-obviously you have NOT read 1984.
Think about it.

I guess Portland is off the list for the highspeed Google fiber network.

I believe a key phrase would be "expectation of privacy" dontchaknow.

Kathe--I did read 1984 just a couple of months ago, and I still agree with Kristine. I'm totally not knowledgeable about computer stuff, but even I know that it's really stupid to not protect your wi-fi. If I were that lady's client, I would quickly be an ex-client.

The thing that I find disturbing was the collection of private Wi-Fi network names associated with street addresses. My wi-fi is secured but given the govt's stand on the level of encryption that civilians are allowed to have access to, it's also hackable by the right skill set. Google and/or its agents had no right to collect or publish that information to the world at large. And yeah any professional who does not encrypt their business clients' wi-fi is acting with malfeasance.

Despite all the expressed indignation here, there are at least two salient facts; (1) there is no legal requirement to encrypt ones local network, and (b) it is unlawful to intercept it.. You self-righteous folks: when you use your cordless phone, do you speak in code?

Most people still use WEP to 'secure' their network, the problem is that "any WEP based network with or without Dynamic WEP keys can now be cracked in minutes".

WPA is crackable as well.

Source: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/ou/hack-most-wireless-lans-in-minutes/41


Broadcasting something onto a public street with no indication that the broadcast is private (such as a secured network or encrypted files, or even making the SSID say "private") is fair game.

Just like taking a picture of a naked person in their own home that is in plain view of the public street. If the naked person wanted their nakedness to be private, they would shut the blinds, or dress in a room that is not visible from a public place.

Anthony your knowledge of wireless networking needs some work. Try this:


The salient part is this:

"Unfortunately, turning off the broadcast of the SSID may lead to a false sense of security. The method discourages only casual wireless snooping, but does not stop a person trying to attack the network.[2]
It is not secure against determined crackers, because every time someone connects to the network, the SSID is transmitted in cleartext even if the wireless connection is otherwise encrypted. An eavesdropper can passively sniff the wireless traffic on that network undetected (with software like Kismet), and wait for someone to connect, revealing the SSID."

I don't believe google was cracking people's networks, they were sniffing for unsecured data which, for all intent and purpose, is public domain.

Not that I think that what they did was ethical.. but I don't think there is anything illegal about recording something that is broadcasted in public.

Not that I think that what they did was ethical.. but I don't think there is anything illegal about recording something that is broadcasted in public.

It's no different than operating a small FM transmitter, say a child's 49.860 MHz walkie-talkie or a FRS radio or a CB radio, and then complaining that someone with a police scanner turned to 49.860 drove through your neighborhood and picked up your conversation. It may not have been for public consumption, but you broadcasted it on a public, unlicensed frequency.

Want privacy? Wi-Fi is NOT the way to go. Heck, using the internet at all is NOT the way to go, but a wired network is still slightly more private than a wireless network in that it requires a physical connection to hack into. These folks who claim they know what they are doing, should know full well that they put up a radio transmit/receive facility that can transmit well past your property line - I've seen it officially stated as about 50 feet, but with my wife's laptop I picked up about 10 different routers, and there's only five occupied houses within 50 feet of where I was (and virtually all of them were unsecured).

It is not secure against determined crackers

NOTHING is. There is no way to be completely secure. Even wired connections can be hacked by determined people- from anywhere in the world.

I know people who dont pay for internet access because they live in an apartment and can pick it up from a dozen unsecured routers at any given time.
I think most people dont secure their networks because they think its just too complicated to figure out.

Numerous private parties have been sniffing wireless networking signals for fun and profit for years; it was a bit of a fad back in 2005.

When Apple's iPhone was able to approximate your location using only wifi, how do you think they did it? They downloaded a copy of an open database of access point locations that had been compiled by volunteers over a span of years, just because they could. (I'm sure of this, because the Apple function reproduced on my own iPhone some errors in the public access point location databases that I introduced when I physically moved the access points a few blocks from their previous locations.)

I'll grant that it was probably a mistake for Google to have done this, but it's not some new invasion of privacy from them. This has been going on for years.

One of the problems here is that the law is not even close to keeping up with technology. If someone tapped a hard phone line (not referring to an officer of the court with a warrant), that is clearly illegal. It's also illegal to sell unlisted phone numbers (though it's been done to great profit). It's also illegal to hack into corporate computer networks and obtain information. There's more than a few folks in jail for it. But the average Jo/Joe citizen is not afforded any protection under the law.

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