May 14, 2010, 7:01 PM — There's a company that makes US$Billions of dollars from analyzing web pages, then delivering advertising: Google. Apparently, according to the San Francisco Examiner's website Google ripped the conversations from WiFi in 30 countries. It still has the data. The post doesn't explain what Google was doing with the data.
I've done a similar research examination. The data was deleted in a week. No names were released in either case. I can tell you that people have no clue what they're doing on WiFi hotspots. I can also tell you that Google's retention of this data probably violates a lot of laws, but I'm not a lawyer.
I am, however, a consumer and am horrified that Google would do such a thing-- and keep the data. They have no business inside people's communications. Best become aware of what's happening. Make your choices based on your privacy beliefs..... and this goes for Facebook, as well.
Update at 2238EDT: Google explains on its blog that it was a mistake. There was three years of collection, and no one caught it. Authorities are apparently looking into it. This is visage out of control. Google has been war driving for years now, collecting massive amounts of data, including MAC addresses.
Further galling is how their Senior VP of Engineering and Research says in the blog, "This incident highlights just how publicly accessible open, non-password-protected WiFi networks are today."
And Google took direct advantage of this, perhaps unlawfully, and most certainly with both commercial, and privacy-ignoring intention.