New privacy issues have come to light surrounding Google's Android mobile OS. Experts on the matter are claiming that back up tools in the operating system make it so that a copy of every person's WiFi password (or the password of other networks you log onto) is being stored on Google's servers. Unfortunately, this might mean that Google could be legally forced to hand over the data at the government's request for one reason or another.
In Android 4.2, the back up service under Settings, lists WiFi passwords as part of the data that will be included, where as earlier versions of the OS did not specifically mention that. Although the feature can be turned off, users lose other, helpful functionality like bookmarks etc.
The main problem here is beyond the fact that Google is storing the passwords. The company is storing them in such a way that means it can read the passwords if it wants to. This is clear to see by the way new Android devices can suck in old passwords, login data and device settings from Google servers, once you have setup your Gmail address and new password.
Obviously, this functionality has its up sides, we can easily manage passwords for several devices and services this way, but it certainly leaves the networks we use in a much less secure state than we may have originally thought. Although this isn't shocking in the least, it is surprising that Google would leave these passwords in a readable form as well as opening itself up for an almost guaranteed public back lash if the government ever does strong arm them for that data.
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