Google Now Let’s Wi-Fi Routers Owners Remove Them from Location Services – A Must Do in Erope

Posted by at 3:21 pm on September 13, 2011

Google, bowing to pressure to European authorities, has said that it will be providing a service that will allow an access point owner to opt out from Google’s location services. This follows months of scrutiny and pressure from several European regulatory agencies after it was revealed that the search engine giant collected personal information from individuals’ Wi-Fi routers, including MAC addresses, while it was gathering data for its its Street View mapping service. Google will be making this opt-out capability available on a global basis sometime during the fall.

In its posting the news, the company extolled the benefits of its collecting the data and emphasized that the captured signals from individuals’ wireless access point signals didn’t identify people. The company went on to say, however, that it thought it could go further in protecting people’s privacy.

“At the request of several European data protection authorities, we are building an opt-out service that will allow an access point owner to opt out from Google’s location services,” stated Peter Fleischer, Google’s Global Privacy Counsel. “Once opted out, our services will not use that access point to determine users’ locations.”

Google’s skirmishes with regulators began in May 2010, when the company revealed that it had accidentally collected Wi-Fi data from individuals’ routers and access points, while the company was collecting videos and photos for Google Maps’ Street View feature. In June, 2010, Google then agreed to return data that it had inadvertently collected, to German, French and Spanish data protection authorities. More recently, in April, the Dutch Data Protection Authority threatened Google with penalties if it didn’t give Dutch residents an opt-out capability after Google allegedly collected information from over 3.6 million Wi-Fi routers in the Netherlands.

Significant in today’s announcement was Google’s making the opt-out feature available on a global basis and not just in Europe.

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