Google Street View cars mapped UK's Wi-Fi networks

Search Engine says networks can't be identified

Google's Street View Cars have logged every wireless network in the UK, it has been revealed.

Earlier this month the search engine company admitted it has been mistakenly collecting data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks for three years.

The company said the error came to light after the German data protection authority audited the Wi-Fi data collected by Street View cars for use in location-based products such as Google Maps for mobile.

However, now Google has admitted that as well as collecting snippets of data passed over Wi-Fi networks, the radio aerials on its Street View cars also collected the MAC (Media Access Control) address and SSID (Service Set-ID) number of home Wi-Fi networks, effectively mapping wireless networks across the UK.

The search engine, which has suspended its Street View cars across the world, said it wasn't the first tech company to map wireless networks, and it had not noted house numbers of the networks ensuring they weren't identifiable.

Many privacy campaigners, including Privacy International, are calling for Google to be investigated.

"The ghost of Street View continues to haunt Google," Privacy International told the Telegraph.

"The idea that it can log everyone's Wi-Fi details because it is all 'public' is a bogus argument. It is bogus because of the question of scale and the question of integration with other information which would amount to a huge breach of our privacy," the organisation said.

"There should be a parliamentary inquiry which should question Google and finally get it to explain what it is up to both technically and commercially."

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it was aware of the issue.

"If we find evidence of significant wrongdoing, we will of course investigate and consider what action should be taken."

See also: Google gets 1,116 UK gov't requests for user data

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags WiFiGooglemobilityUK

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Carrie-Ann Skinner

Unknown Publication
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?