[LINK] Google's WiFi bungle
kim at holburn.net
Wed May 19 10:39:28 AEST 2010
On 2010/May/19, at 9:50 AM, Richard Chirgwin wrote:
> The information might be "in the clear" but an open curtain doesn't
> excuse the peeping tom.
If you have a house with large areas of glass and you take off your
clothes in full view of the street you would be an exhibitionist.
This too is frowned upon.
> There is an underlying notion that someone who
> does something silly therefore forfeits their rights.
> Kim Holburn wrote:
>> On 2010/May/19, at 5:55 AM, Stephen Wilson wrote:
>>> I say again, this case highlights how IT and privacy remain stuck in
>>> separate worlds. Obstinately so.
>> I'd say it highlights how people with old ideas of privacy and the
>> internet, facebook, google and modern realities of privacy are stuck
>> in separate worlds. I am constantly amazed by what people put on
>> facebook. Of their own volition.
>>> Kim Holburn wrote "[wifi] is not private and neither legislation nor
>>> intention is going to make it so".
>>> One more time ... it doesn't much matter how someone gets my
>>> identifiable information. Unless I have consented to its collection
>>> use, there are strict legislated constraints on what any business
>>> can do
>>> with information about me.
>> There is no personal information in wifi unless you put it there. I
>> know people who call their wifi things like : JonesesAtNumber55 and
>> ThePetriFamily. Not a good idea, better to call it GetOffMyLawn,
>> "Caitlin stop stealing our internet" or "Google, this is private".
>> Putting personal information in your SSID would be somewhat like the
>> neon sign. The SSID is broadcast in the clear.
>> The MAC addresses can identify computers but not personal data. The
>> MAC address is unique but only in a forensic sense. It is not
>> available through a router. Although the idea of capturing of MAC
>> addresses is getting much closer to the bone and I don't understand
>> all why google thought it should harvest this but still, it is clear
>> broadcast information.
>>> One of the strengths of *Information* Privacy law is that it is very
>>> 'clinical'. It skirts philosophical issues about 'public' and
>>> (for the most part not even using those terms) and concentrates
>>> on controlling personal information flows and uses. It also
>>> the little guy against exploitation of their own inadvertent
>>> like leaving their wifi network open.
>> Wifi is always to some extent open. The mistake is using it at all
>> privacy is what you want.
>>> Erecting a neon sign with my personal details is not the same as
>>> a wifi network open. No special equipment is needed to read a sign.
>> Ummm ... to read a sign: an education? In the language the sign is
>> written in? Or a camera?
>> And to read wifi: A laptop, almost any laptop or one of many mobile
>> phones? If you add an external antenna which is not a big deal you
>> can get a lot better reception and with an antenna made from a
>> pringles packet you can do very well indeed. As far as I can tell
>> google did not use a directional antenna though.
>>> And putting up a sign could be interpreted as giving implied consent
>>> information on that sign to be collected by others (but even then
>>> will be constraints on how that information can be secondarily
>> This then would be my point exactly about wifi.
>>> In contrast, there is no way that simply operating a wifi network
>>> of the box) represents consent for information on that network to be
>>> sniffed, collected and used for god knows what secondary purpose.
>> You see, there was a time when using a radio transmitter was
>> considered broadcasting information. You can pretend it's not, that
>> you're not broadcasting all that data but that doesn't make it true.
>> You can pretend that this is just your private network as it's
>> out over the suburb. I would view it in much the same way as my
>> nieces and nephews putting pictures of themselves drunk on facebook.
>> No matter what people who sell wifi equipment say, it's not private.
>>> Steve Wilson
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408 M: +61 404072753
mailto:kim at holburn.net aim://kimholburn
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