CNet is reporting that while attempting to make a complete list of Wi-Fi
access points, Google
has also recorded (and in some cases, released) a glut of personal location information
with their Street View
mapping cars. This comes after previous reports supporting the claim, and a hefty 100,000 euro ($143,000) fine from the French Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés
(CNIL) for gathering unique identifiers for Wi-Fi-enabled hardware.
Google's stated goal was, in addition to mapping the roads of the world, to provide a complete list of Wi-Fi access points. This data could be used for a variety of purposes, from helping weary travelers find easy-to-use Internet connections to aiding completely lost travelers with psuedo-GPS. In an interesting twist, this was the same goal Apple
purported to during their own user location data scandal. The difference is that Google seems to have recorded unique identifiers of computers, phones, and other Wi-Fi enabled devices along with Wi-Fi hotspots.
Before you bust out the torches, pitchforks, wetsuits, and tridents and march off to Mountain View, CA., let's put this in perspective.