[FoRK] Fwd: [ PFIR ] Google announces opt-out for wi-fi location database, but beware of possible side effects

Gregory Alan Bolcer greg at bolcer.org
Tue Nov 15 05:28:04 PST 2011

I don't get it.  Why would Google ever know anything about your Wifi? If  
you choose to make your ssid publicly broadcast, it's publicly broadcast. 
At least they admit to it unlike the tens of other people who discovered 
it.  Is the complaint that they've just reduced the cost to centralized the 
info and made it searchable?  Likewise, if you don't properly password 
protect that publicly broadcast ssid, you will have people using it.  If 
you care anything about security, not to mention privacy, you shouldn't be 
broadcasting that at all.

I have a better idea, we should have a campaign that everyone change their 
ssid to "wireless," "netgear," "linksys," or "default."


On 11/15/2011 1:50 AM, Bill Humphries wrote:
> I'm going to suggest a different suffix for WiFi networks wanting to 'opt out' of Google's wifi mapping:
> "_gfy_google"
> Google's policy is exactly the Silicon Valley arrogance that Prokofy Neva's been talking about for years.
> Begin forwarded message:
>> From: "PFIR \(People For Internet Responsibility\) Announcement List"<pfir at pfir.org>
>> Date: November 15, 2011 1:10:52 AM PST
>> To: pfir-list at pfir.org
>> Subject: [ PFIR ] Google announces opt-out for wi-fi location database, but beware of possible side effects
>> Reply-To: "PFIR \(People For Internet Responsibility\) Announcement List"<pfir at pfir.org>
>> Google announces opt-out for wi-fi location database, but beware of
>> possible side effects
>> http://j.mp/uWyC6Y  (This message on Google+)
>> It's late, and I have to knock off for the night, but I wanted to
>> quickly note a posting Google made on their official blog late Monday
>> evening, relating to a new procedure for opting-out of their wi-fi
>> location database:
>> http://j.mp/rROZ3F  (Official Google Blog)
>> In brief, they're asking wi-fi owners who want to opt-out to change their
>> SSIDs (essentially, the broadcast "name" of wi-fi access points) to
>> include a suffix of "_nomap".
>> I understand why Google has chosen this route -- if an opt-in method were
>> used only a tiny fraction of persons would likely ever adopt it, and wi-fi
>> mapping does provide notable precision benefits to map users.
> Oh, but of course Lauren, the end always justifies the means for you, as long as Google's doing it.
>> Having said that, it isn't clear to me how practical it really is to
>> expect significant numbers of people to be willing to change their SSID
>> on this basis.
> They don't. They've put one post on a blog and will now claim they've absolved themselves of any responsiblity.
>> One problem, probably minor but worth noting, is that this actually
>> could be seen as drawing attention to yourself.  Anyone scanning the
>> area and seeing certain SSIDs with the "_nomap" suffix might wonder
>> *why* those particular persons were so interested in not being mapped.
>> Like I said, probably not a big deal.
> Yes, comrade, the innocent have nothing to hide and should welcome the Google bots.
>> But a much more crucial issue is this.  If you do change your SSID,
>> you're likely going to have to reconfigure every client device you
>> have that already knows that SSID, because your altered SSID is going
>> to look like an entirely different access point.  This will probably
>> mean re-inputting your (hopefully WPA2, but perhaps WPA or even [ugh]
>> WEP) passwords, and doing this for everything that previously knew
>> that original SSID without the _nomap suffix.
>> More on this later.
>> Good night.
>> --Lauren--
>> Lauren Weinstein (lauren at vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren
>> Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org
>> Founder:
>> - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org
>> - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
>> - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com
>> Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
>> Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
>> Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren
>> Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein
>> Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com
>> _______________________________________________
>> pfir mailing list
>> http://lists.pfir.org/mailman/listinfo/pfir
> _______________________________________________
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> http://xent.com/mailman/listinfo/fork

greg at bolcer.org, http://bolcer.org, c: +1.714.928.5476
FoRK mailing list

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