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Bad PR aside, what does the law say? Is it legal to record traffic from unencrypted WiFi networks?



Wrong question.

Is it ethical for a company that already has massive amounts of information on your every move on the net to extend that reach by peeping into your house as well? And then their CEO has the chutzpa to blurb on his g+ about "privacy" concerns.


The funny thing about all this is that (perhaps this case aside) Google is getting a lot of bad PR because they actually tell people what they do.

Meanwhile, everyone uses airmiles cards, facebook, and numerous other services that abuse privacy and bury the details in fine print. Nobody gets upset. Did you know that by using an airmiles card all your transactions are sent off for data mining? Did you know that Target used transaction data to predict that teenage girl was pregnant before she even told her parents and sent baby related print ads to her house?

Your privacy is being violated all the time, constantly, and nobody tells you about it. If you care so much about the ethics of recording traffic from open wifi networks, then I hope you also pick up your sword against the massive tide of less obvious and more directly nefarious privacy violations.


> The funny thing about all this is that (perhaps this case aside) Google is getting a lot of bad PR because they actually tell people what they do.

Surely you jest? This story goes back 4-5 years ago. People have such short memories. [p.s.: missed the "aside".]

http://epic.org/privacy/streetview/#timeline

> Meanwhile, everyone .. facebook .. Target ..

Facebook's very provenance is a matter of double dealing, lies, and thievery. I expect precisely zero degree of ethical and moral rectitude from that company. I have never used it and never will unless literally forced at gun point.

Target (and other merchants): Rest assured I was never convinced that giving merchant x a track-me green light was worth saving a few bucks here and there.

I expected so much more from Google and the people working for Google.

I deeply regret the necessity to post the links below (and single out this one individual), but clearly $omething happen$ to otherwise (and previously) aware, concerned, and '"sword" wielding' engineers and scientists when they get sucked into Google's vortex:

http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~daw/papers/privacy-compcon97-www...

https://twitter.com/#!/eric_brewer/status/68051541063503872

(What happened, Dr. Brewer? You seemed to have an informed clue in 1997 ...)

It really makes you wonder. I guess we are all human, after all.

> Your privacy is being violated all the time, constantly, and nobody tells you about it. If you care so much about the ethics of recording traffic from open wifi networks, then I hope you also pick up your sword against the massive tide of less obvious and more directly nefarious privacy violations.

Whenever I get a chance. You bet. And I am not giving up either, and neither should you. (Do you have children? Think about the future world you are preparing as inheritance for them. Specially if you are a geek.)


> "The funny thing about all this is that (perhaps this case aside) Google is getting a lot of bad PR because they actually tell people what they do."

Not quite, Google isn't being as honest as you're suggesting. They tried to spin the blame off onto a rogue engineer. From the article: "Google has portrayed it as the mistakes of an unauthorized engineer operating on his own and stressed that the data was never used in any Google product."

Although you're right that privacy invasions occur across the entire industry, I think that's even more reason to send the message that privacy is a real concern.


Don't know abou the U.S., but in Australia they were found to have breached privacy legislation. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/google-austral...


I don't think the law is clear on this point (yet). It may depend on whether the owner of the AP has an expectation of privacy; pedantic techies will say "if you wanted privacy you'd use WPA" and everyone else would say "I don't see my data whizzing through the air..."


Accessing a wi-fi network without permission is definitely against the law:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_piggybacking#United...


Google was sniffing traffic, not using the APs to access the Internet.


It IS legal to film a movie played at a drive-in theater if you can see it from your house.

If your neighbor leaves an opened piece of mail by a window, are you allowed to read it?


Yes it is legal to film a movie in general though unless the movie is in the public domain you would be committing copyright infringement by distributing it. This is a separate issue from privacy.




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