Google Admits It Was Accidentally Collecting Some Open WiFi Data
from the oops dept
There's no way around the fact that Google should not have done this, and in doing so, it's just handed years worth of "evidence" of Google's evil nature to the company's critics. In context, however, it's still not clear that what Google did was really that bad. Anyone using a WiFi network can similarly see unencrypted data used by others on that same access point. It happens all the time -- which is why if you are using a shared network, you should always encrypt your traffic -- and most sensitive websites (webmail, banks, etc.) automatically encrypt the traffic. On top of that, as Google notes, since the data collected came from cars driving around, they were not connected to any particular WiFi network for very long at all.
But, for most people, I would imagine that those details won't matter much. Google, clearly, should have known better and should have more carefully understood the code it was using and what it was collecting. Not doing so is definitely a black mark on Google, and a reminder to everyone that data on the network may be open to prying eyes.