Google has admitted to collecting payload data from WiFi networks. In a statement released today, Google stated that they made a mistake when working on an “experimental Wifi project.” This project consisted of a piece of code that took samples of publicly broadcasted WiFi data.
As soon as we became aware of this problem, we grounded our Street View cars and segregated the data on our network, which we then disconnected to make it inaccessible. We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and are currently reaching out to regulators in the relevant countries about how to quickly dispose of it.
Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do, and in this case we fell short. So we will be:
- Asking a third party to review the software at issue, how it worked and what data it gathered, as well as to confirm that we deleted the data appropriately; and
- Internally reviewing our procedures to ensure that our controls are sufficiently robust to address these kinds of problems in the future.
In addition, given the concerns raised, we have decided that it’s best to stop our Street View cars collecting WiFi network data entirely.
Sounds to me like Google waited until they got caught to seize this operation. This admission occurred after the DPA (Data Protection Authority) in Germany requested to audit the WiFi data that Google’s Street View vehicles collected.
Here’s all the more reason to secure your wireless networks folks.