May 15th 2010
Now we know why.
Under the heading “Google Cars gathering home internet data without telling” yesterdays Dom Post, and again, on last nights TV One news, was featured the story about those new rooftop arrangements on the cars.
We all know the main reason the vehicles arrive in our town traveling our streets is to compile panoramic views from curbside to go with Google’s map service, specifically StreetView.
Back in December you may recall I was asking the question about why-fore the massive size increase (in these times of miniaturization) in the latest generation of Google StreetView camera atop the Holden Astra, the same car that had been in town just a year earlier with a much smaller arrangement on top.
After concerns from privacy watchdogs in Germany, Britain and Australia, the reason for that extra “gear” up there has been told.
I’ll let Wellingtons “Dominion Post” explain;
Google has collected personal wireless internet data from New Zealand homes through cars sent around the country for its Street View project.
The internet giant confirmed the fact last night, after privacy watchdogs in Germany, Britain and Australia raised concerns about the practice. Fears include the possibility that Google could match people’s mobile devices and internet behaviour to home addresses.
In the article, an Australian Google representative states;
The data, which is publicly available, was used to give precise readings of people’s locations if they were using Google’s mobile map services.
Google “did not collect any information about householders” and could not identify individuals from information collected by its Street View cars, he said.
Full article here.
UPDATE: even an article in the New York Times “Business Day” section about it today.
UPDATED: comment now from Google on their official Google Blog, in which Alan Eustace, Senior VP, Engineering & Research makes the statement “In addition, given the concerns raised, we have decided that it’s best to stop our Street View cars collecting WiFi network data entirely.”