Home Google Lets Wi-Fi Providers Opt Out of Location Data Collection

Google Lets Wi-Fi Providers Opt Out of Location Data Collection

In a smart policy (and public relations) move, Google has announced that they will allow providers of public Wi-Fi access points to opt out of providing location data to Google services.

Google uses public Wi-Fi data to pinpoint mobile users’ location in concert with GPS and cell tower data, because no one method is perfectly reliable. The new policy comes in response to criticism and legal inquiries in Europe over Wi-Fi data collected by Google, particularly by its Street View cars. The opt-out will be available worldwide.

Though the furor has been centered in Europe, Google has been criticized around the world for its collection of private Wi-Fi data by Street View vehicles. Google claims that only Wi-Fi data useful for location services are scraped, but citizens and governments alike have accused Google of overstepping that line.

Google initially refused to hand that data over to German investigators, though the company eventually relented. Criticism of the policy spread around the world, eventually resulting in Google’s discontinuation of Wi-Fi data collection by Street View vehicles.

In fact, co-founder Sergey Brin admitted that the level of data scraping was a mistake, saying that Google “screwed up.” Today’s policy change is another carefully worded admission that Google’s previous policies on Wi-Fi data collection were too aggressive.

How do you feel about Google using Wi-Fi data for location services? Sound off in the comments

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