[LINK] Google's WiFi bungle

Craig Sanders cas at taz.net.au
Tue May 18 19:39:01 AEST 2010

On Tue, May 18, 2010 at 05:38:08PM +1000, Stephen Wilson wrote:
> This is a classic case of the worlds of privacy and technology being  
> totally blind to one another.                                         

no, it's a classic case of someone being sucked in by mainstream media

> Craig's world view doesn't recognise privacy principles, and typical  
> privacy policy wonks don't know how IT works.                         

bullshit. here's a tip: disagreeing with you does not make someone
ignorant of privacy principles or issues.

and another tip: trying to patronisingly shove someone into the "just a
dumb ignorant tech, out of touch with the real world" basket tends to
piss them off.

as anyone who's seen me post on this list before should know, i'm very
much aware of privacy issues, because privacy is very important to me
personally. for example, I go to great lengths to avoid getting on
databases, and vigorously defend my right to privacy when it has been
infringed or abused by companies - whether that abuse is technically
against the law or not (many privacy infringements are quite legal, and
a lot more are legal if the individual has given permission(*)....which,
sadly, many people are more than willing to do by using Fly Buys and
other so-called Loyalty/Rewards systems or by entering competitions)

I can also distinguish between real privacy issues and a moronic
media beat-up.  seems that some people here lack that basic skill.

google's wifi scanner picked up stuff that was being publicly broadcast.
they had no intention of doing so, it was just crap that was there. when
they found out/were informed of this, they deleted it. it's a non-issue.

instead of tilting at windmills, try spending your time railing
against REAL privacy problems.

(*) and yes, many give permission because they don't read the fine print
and/or don't have the brains to figure out that these things are just
ways of gathering and using information about them - e.g. "rewards"
systems are a way around laws preventing shops from compiling purchase
data on individuals from EFTPOS transactions - it's illegal. but it's
quite legal IF people sign something - like a rewards club membership -
that lets them do it.

But many people STILL think that signing up to these things is a good
idea even if you tell them what they're really for. they just don't
care. or they think that the opportunity to buy a silver-plated electric
nose-har trimmer for 100,000 points (or something equally valuable and
useful) is adequate compensation for their privacy.

> It's hard to see the collection by Google of wifi data including
> paylod samples as being entirely innocent, given that company's
> propensity to join up information and make money from it.

you'd find that hard to see because you're ignorant of the kind of
information that is being continuously broadcast by wifi devices and
access points. it is, for the most part, technical gibberish (MAC
address, SSID, and the like) that in no way identifies an individual.

the email address you posted to the list is far more personally
identifying than the kind of rubbish you get from scanning for wifi


craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au>

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