We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,258 News Articles

Google Street View cars mapped UK's Wi-Fi networks

Search Engine says networks can't be identified

Google's Street View Cars have logged every wireless network in the UK, it has been revealed.

Earlier this month the search engine company admitted it has been mistakenly collecting data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks for three years.

The company said the error came to light after the German data protection authority audited the Wi-Fi data collected by Street View cars for use in location-based products such as Google Maps for mobile.

However, now Google has admitted that as well as collecting snippets of data passed over Wi-Fi networks, the radio aerials on its Street View cars also collected the MAC (Media Access Control) address and SSID (Service Set-ID) number of home Wi-Fi networks, effectively mapping wireless networks across the UK.

The search engine, which has suspended its Street View cars across the world, said it wasn't the first tech company to map wireless networks, and it had not noted house numbers of the networks ensuring they weren't identifiable.

Many privacy campaigners, including Privacy International, are calling for Google to be investigated.

"The ghost of Street View continues to haunt Google," Privacy International told the Telegraph.

"The idea that it can log everyone's Wi-Fi details because it is all 'public' is a bogus argument. It is bogus because of the question of scale and the question of integration with other information which would amount to a huge breach of our privacy," the organisation said.

"There should be a parliamentary inquiry which should question Google and finally get it to explain what it is up to both technically and commercially."

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it was aware of the issue.

"If we find evidence of significant wrongdoing, we will of course investigate and consider what action should be taken."

See also: Google gets 1,116 UK gov't requests for user data


IDG UK Sites

Best Christmas 2014 UK tech deals, Boxing Day 2014 UK tech deals & January sales 2015 UK tech...

IDG UK Sites

Apple's 2014 highlights: the most significant Apple news of 2014

IDG UK Sites

Watch this heartwarming Christmas short by Trunk for composer John Rutter

IDG UK Sites

Ultimate iOS 8 Tips: 35 awesome and advanced tips for using iOS 8 on iPhone and iPad