Google Maps cars pull some user data

May 15, 2010: 8:15 PM ET

Also, Google notes that they will  start offering an encrypted version of Google Search starting next week.

Google StreetView Car via Google

Alan Eustace, Senior VP, Engineering & Research, posted some bad news for privacy advocates today on  Google's Official Blog.

Those cars (right) that go around collecting images for street view use local Wifi hotspots to help map the world. It turns out that they've also been collecting and storing data from those unsecured hotspots.  Anything that was being transmitted during the time those cars were driving by may have been picked up by Google's software and stored.

Should we be worried about this?  Not really.  That same data could be collected by anyone with some free software.  It is one of the hazards of having an open Wifi router.  That's also why when you do important things like banking, you use a more secure protocol, https, whose transmissions can't easily be intercepted, even over unencrypted channels.

It also seems that it was an honest mistake on Google's part.

Google says it will work with local authorities to show what information was collected and make sure it is disposed of properly.

In a mostly unrelated matter, Google said they'd begin offering an encrypted version of their search engine next week.

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About This Author
Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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