The FCC investigated Google’s inadvertent intercept of private data while sniffing wi-fi for its Google Maps product and decided there wasn’t any “there” there.
Consumer groups have worked themselves into a lather over the specter of the Evil Corporation mining their data. They weren’t worried when it was just the neighbors sniffing their information, even though a neighbor is much more likely to have access to other information about you, along with the physical capability of using that information against you.
But give these groups a scary corporate villain, and they’ll raise some money.
Feds Let Google Off With Warning for Wi-Fi–Sniffing Cars
Google discovered earlier this year, after inquiries from German data authorities, that it had been eavesdropping on open Wi-Fi networks from its Street View mapping cars, which had been equipped with Wi-Fi–sniffing hardware to record the names and MAC addresses of routers to improve Google services. In some cases, Google vacuumed in full e-mails as well as unsecured passwords.
While the company quickly admitted that it had made a mistake and temporarily grounded its fleet of mapping vehicles, the company faced a number of investigations around the world, as well as class-action lawsuits, some of which continue.