We blogged a few months back about the dangers of using un-encrypted Wi-Fi networks. How cyber criminals could snoop and capture information in your emails or other data you are transmitting. Well the French government just fined Google for unfair data collection from wireless networks through the company’s Street View mapping service and localization program Latitude.
The data captured included technical data, as well as sensitive personal information such as usernames, passwords, login details and even email exchanges.
While Google has ceased collecting information via the Street View cars, the company continues to collect data on Wi-Fi access points through smartphones connected to its Latitude service, without informing individuals, another reason for the fine, said the French. “This constitutes unfair data collection that benefits Google economically,” they added.
Now of course this was all a mistake. A mistake Google has known about and continues to make. Collateral damage I guess they would call it. Acceptable in their drive for profits.
“As we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks,” Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer said in an emailed statement Monday.
Now it’s just a matter of time before the criminals enter the picture with roving bands of thugs with antennae sticking out of their cars. Sweeping neighborhoods, collecting data transmitted over wireless networks.
So once again, folks, if you have personal and sensitive stuff you want to keep private, encrypt your files, encrypt your Wi-Fi and use a hard-to-guess password.