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

From: Aleecia M. McDonald <aleecia@aleecia.com>
Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2011 12:11:59 -0800
Message-Id: <3E27AA69-4D4F-4546-84E4-224F941CAAB8@aleecia.com>
To: "public-privacy (W3C mailing list)" <public-privacy@w3.org>
Speaking only for myself yadda yadda disclaim -

The SSID discussion is interesting, and that's a great pointer. I had not seen that document before. Good stuff. The "what is a browser?" video Jules mentioned is worth watching if anyone hasn't seen it. The closing statistic at the end is great perspective. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4MwTvtyrUQ 

Jules, one trouble I have with your argument is I could invert it and still have it read just as well. There is huge benefit to society for individuals not being in state of being observed, for not needing to ask permission to be left alone in one's own home with one's own thoughts. Basic freedom. Your arguments about externalities and rate of changing defaults apply just as readily there too. 

Don't misunderstand, I think _nomap is a useful hack to address the issue quickly, and worthwhile on those grounds. I confess a pragmatic problem-solving bent. But as a long term direction? Bah. This is not just privacy, which would suffice, but it is also about property. My data is not a corporate commons, even "only" identifiers like SSID and MAC addresses. If you want what's mine, the deal is, you have to ask first and respect if I say no. Not have me beg for you not to take it from me. That seems foundational for any sort of civilization. 

The EU and US diverge. In cases like SSID, there can easily be different policies by region. Ideally there are ways to support regional autonomy even on the world-wide web, with what will amount to a series of natural experiments. In the abstract, that's not all bad. For domestic industry's sake, I hope US software makers do not take a page from the auto makers. They successfully fought for weaker domestic exhaust standards then found it difficult to sell into international markets. Oops. 

	Aleecia

On Nov 25, 2011, at 7:59 AM, Jules Polonetsky wrote:

> 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
> 
> http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en/us/googleblogs/pdfs/friedberg_sourcecode_analysis_060910.pdf
> 
> 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....
> 
> Best,
> Frank
> 
> 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)
> mailto:frank.wagner@telekom.de
> http://www.telekom.de
> 
> 
> 
> ----- 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 Saturday, 26 November 2011 20:12:30 GMT

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