Google to offer opt-out tool for Wi-Fi location tracking

By on September 14, 2011, 3:00 PM

Google has announced that it will offer owners of residential Wi-Fi routers around the world the option of removing their devices from a registry it uses to determine mobile users' locations. The move comes as the search giant faces mounting pressure from European regulators who warned them in May that such collection of data violated European law.

According to Google, since GPS is not always available and many applications require location data to work, the company must use another method to determine a person's location. They also use data from nearby cell towers, but Google believes this is not always accurate and decided to access publicly broadcast Wi-Fi data from wireless access points to improve location-based services like Google Maps and others. The company says the data collected is entirely anonymous and it helps find a device's location faster and without battery drain.

"Even though the wireless access point signals we use in our location services don't identify people, we think we can go further in protecting people's privacy," wrote Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer in a company blog post. "At the request of several European data protection authorities, we are building an opt-out service that will allow an access point owner to opt out from Google's location services." The system will launch globally this fall.

Google is not the only company that has drawn scrutiny for its practice of gathering location data. Earlier this year Apple was also in the spotlight after researchers found files on the iPhone that routinely logged the location of users, which was saved unencrypted and unprotected on any machine that users synced their iOS device with. The company addressed the issue with a software fix that erased the file when users' disabled location services.




User Comments: 4

Got something to say? Post a comment
Guest said:

there was another case where google was being thrown to court for being google, i.e people with no respect for human beings, where they made an function to disable the thing which they went to court for, only, it didn't actually work, and it wasn't fixed.

just stick to DuckDuckGo. (http://www.duckduckgo.com)

TekGun TekGun said:

Shouldn't the default be an offer to opt in?

3DCGMODELER 3DCGMODELER said:

GPS receivers are now integrated in many mobile phones. ..... As of March 2008, there are 31 actively broadcasting satellites in the GPS constellation...

3DCGMODELER 3DCGMODELER said:

and they plan on launching another 24 by 2014

for a total of 60

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.