I haven't commented on here in a long time, but post begged me to respond.
While I sincerely doubt your claims about what you did and what information you were privvy to in your military service, the simple fact is as a soldier your *RIGHTS* are significantly more restricted (just look at the UCMJ for example).
The reality is the collection of what homes have unsecured networks is perfectly legal. Google just did what I, or you, or anyone else who had the desire could do, but on a larger scale. It's the same as if I drove down the street with a laptop and a paper map (remember those?) and marked where I saw a unsecured network was. The issue at hand is about the chunks of data they accidentally collected while indexing unsecured wifi.
The "authorities" (I include the " " not as a sign for disrespect to authority, but I believe we have differing opinions as to what constitutes an authority.) Absolutely have to follow the same laws we do. I will grant you there are situations where they are allowed to view more than you or I have LEGAL access too, there are checks and balances in place to prevent precisely what you seem to be advocating.
And you are absolutely wrong, have you ever heard of the 5th amendment? Miranda rights? either of those ring a bell? I can ABSOLUTELY tell an officer I will not discuss anything with him without an attorney (who will usually advice you to shut the hell up), and that he CANNOT access my private information at a whim. If there is probable cause for him to have a need to see my private information (IE: What I have saved on my computer) a judge will issue a warrant. Very different from what you say they can do.
And I may be mistaken, but I believe there is precedent in place that an open wifi network is public and any data transmitted is NOT private. My interpretation of that is that going on a "wardrive" while perhaps unethical, is perfectly legal.
And while it would look REALLY bad and lead to the police keeping a close eye on you, having a list on your person or in your vehicle of which houses on the block leave their doors unlocked is also perfectly legal. With a few exceptions, intent without action is perfectly legal. So obviously deleting the data would be a PR nightmare and *might* constitute destroying evidence (as it has not been ok'd by whatever authority has jurisdiction), hanging onto it and not using it would be (IMHO) perfectly legal. Now I'm not advocating that it's a good idea, because as long as it exists there's the opportunity for it to be leaked, but there you have it.
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