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RE: Opt-out for wifi network of the Google Location Server

From: Jules Polonetsky <julespol@futureofprivacy.org>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2011 10:59:51 -0500
To: <Frank.Wagner@telekom.de>, <karld@opera.com>, <public-privacy@w3.org>
Message-ID: <00fc01ccab8b$443639b0$cca2ad10$@futureofprivacy.org>
Collection of SSID is not and was not a bug.  The intentional point of the geo-location services run by Apple, Google, Microsoft and Skyhook is to collect  SSID and MAC address and log the precise location so that it is used when other devices see to fix their location.  (The bug was logging the payload data that was being broadcast into the air from unencrypted/non password protected wifi networks). 

Description from the technical expert retained to audit the code/collection


In my opinion, this is exactly the kind of service where the opt-out argument is powerful.  It benefits the individual and society.  The data collection and link to PII can be minimized if done conservatively.  The service would not exist if opt-in only - a fabulous opt-in rate for offers of immediately value to users is 20 or 30 per cent.   The idea that the very high coverage needed to make this service useful could be gained by explaining something fairly technical to a mass audience is inconceivable...(have you seen the "man on the street videos" where random people are asked what a "browser' is?).  Add to this that users get the benefit even if they do not opt-in....

Opt-in/out is always a good debate....but also interesting is the question of when are there uses that are compelling, valuable to society and indirectly to the individual......and when the individual is unlikely to take any affirmative step, or may decline if asked....

Consider organ donation, a very valuable need to society and indirectly to the individual (will there be an organ available if you or your loved one is in need).  Spain and Austria have opt-out systems and very high donor rates.  Germany and Greece have opt-in systems and very low donor rates.

Privacy is an important right.  But if we assume it always prevails over competing values, we will lose many of the benefits to society of data use.  We need to lean on technology,policy and law to both optimize the benefits of data collection and to minimize the risks thus created.

-----Original Message-----
From: Frank.Wagner@telekom.de [mailto:Frank.Wagner@telekom.de] 
Sent: Friday, November 25, 2011 9:32 AM
To: karld@opera.com; public-privacy@w3.org
Subject: AW: Opt-out for wifi network of the Google Location Server

We had this in Germany around all the discussions about streetview. They told that the collection of the SSID was a software bug. I wonder that the bug has not been fixed in other countries....


Deutsche Telekom AG
Service Zentrale, Group Privacy
Frank Wagner
Senior Privacy Expert
Deutsche-Telekom-Allee 7, 64295 Darmstadt
+49 6151 937 3514 (Phone)
+49 175 181 9770 (Mobile)

----- Originalnachricht -----
Von: Karl Dubost <karld@opera.com>
An: public-privacy (W3C mailing list) <public-privacy@w3.org>
Gesendet: Fri Nov 25 14:37:06 2011
Betreff: Opt-out for wifi network of the Google Location Server

This seems like a bad farce.
Owners of Wifi network access point have all to change their SSID to opt-out of Google Cars collecting geolocation.

We know that will probably not change anything because most of the people will be ignorant on how to change their network SSID.

I would have understood an opt-in scenario with Google trying to convince people it is good for the community to opt-in. 

    On Wed, 23 Nov 2011 05:18:41 GMT
    In Official Google Blog: Greater choice for wireless access point owners
    At http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/greater-choice-for-wireless-access.html

    We’re introducing a method that lets you opt out 
    of having your wireless access point included in 
    the Google Location Server. To opt out, visit your 
    access point’s settings and change the wireless 
    network name (or SSID) so that it ends with 
    “_nomap”.  For example, if your SSID is “Network”, 
    you‘d need to change it to “Network_nomap”.

Karl Dubost - http://dev.opera.com/
Developer Relations & Tools, Opera Software
Received on Friday, 25 November 2011 16:00:46 UTC

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