Controversies over Wi-Fi Data

by Jim J

The FCC recently cleared Google of wrongdoings regarding their actions in the breech of data two years ago. Google is accused of harvesting data from their “Street View” cars that they gathered from Wi-Fi networks. In the process of aggregating data with people’s wireless networks, Google also accidentally gathered private information such as passwords and email addresses from the wireless networks. Though this was not their purpose in collecting the information, Google inadvertently did so because of plethora of data they were collecting. And to top it off, they got away with it as not being a crime because the data use public airwaves that are accessible by anyone; the argument is that its similar to one sending vital information using Walkmans on a frequency others can listen into. The final point is the only way for personal information to truly be secure is through encryption and with password-protection.

I somewhat agree with the author’s decision in defending Google’s position, however I also think that Google should at least publicly apologize or send some type of notification out to its users in their actions of collecting personal information, despite such information being readily accessible on wireless networks. Its an act of goodwill that Google does not betray the trust of their users and can only serve to increase their PR.

In addition and more importantly, large tech companies like Google can continue to advocate the dangers of wireless networks and the proper ways of securing them and the potential risks in transmitting unencrypted data. In this age wireless networks are ubiquitous in people’s homes and basic knowledge of securing the networks is essential in protecting information for unwanted eyes; Google could actually turn negative PR event around in providing for ways to avoid this from happening in the future. Though Google likely could not have done much with that much information, self-proclaimed cyber-terrorist methodically targeting a small neighborhood could easily cause more damage.



Elgan, Mike. (2012, April 22). Google Didn’t Steal Wi-Fi — Here’s Why. Retrieved April 22, 2012, from


3 thoughts on “Controversies over Wi-Fi Data”

  1. I did not expect Google to be involved in such a sketchy controversy, considering that they have actively stood against SOPA, which has a lot to do with SOPA’s implied powers to collect information on users for governmental use. However, I do believe that their intent was not exactly malicious, but simply to add to their business intelligence, despite how naive I may sound. Their business simply seems to revolve around massive amounts of intelligence, whether it be street maps of the entire world or a directory of websites, or user’s habits correlating to the ads they are likeliest to be attracted to, and this seems like just another part of what they do.

  2. Honestly, I think if Google wanted they already could have destroyed us all, those really aren’t their motives and its in their best interests to keep us customers and the public happy.

  3. I think people are really sensitive about their privacy on the internet. Ever since SOPA was announced, people get heated over every little single thing that is related to personal information. However, I do think that Google should be more open to the public about their data usage so that people don’t get the wrong impressions.

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