(or: Inadvertently Illegal Programming, A Primer)
Earlier this month, Google’s official engineering blog confessed that the company’s Street View cars and bikes have “inadvertently” gathered personal data in transit on unencrypted Wi-Fi networks for the past three years (see the post: Wi-Fi Data Collection). As chronicled in major news stories in the past three weeks, Google’s actions are under scrutiny by government regulators everywhere (see links to news stories at the end of this post).
[One of Google's Ominous-Looking Spy Cars
photo by byrion -- click to enlarge]
This is a topic close to my heart because my research group has been conducting similar surveys of wireless signals for the past five years as part of a project funded by the US National Science Foundation. Here’s a picture of our own slightly less obtrusive Wi-Fi sampling car in South Central Los Angeles in 2005. (On second thought, we shouldn’t have chosen a black SUV. Too scary.)