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[ NNSquad ] Google announces opt-out for wi-fi location database, but beware of possible side effects

Google announces opt-out for wi-fi location database, but beware of
possible side effects

http://j.mp/uWyC6Y  (This message on Google+)

It's late, and I have to knock off for the night, but I wanted to
quickly note a posting Google made on their official blog late Monday
evening, relating to a new procedure for opting-out of their wi-fi
location database:

http://j.mp/rROZ3F  (Official Google Blog)

In brief, they're asking wi-fi owners who want to opt-out to change their
SSIDs (essentially, the broadcast "name" of wi-fi access points) to
include a suffix of "_nomap".

I understand why Google has chosen this route -- if an opt-in method were
used only a tiny fraction of persons would likely ever adopt it, and wi-fi
mapping does provide notable precision benefits to map users.

Having said that, it isn't clear to me how practical it really is to
expect significant numbers of people to be willing to change their SSID
on this basis.  

One problem, probably minor but worth noting, is that this actually
could be seen as drawing attention to yourself.  Anyone scanning the
area and seeing certain SSIDs with the "_nomap" suffix might wonder
*why* those particular persons were so interested in not being mapped.
Like I said, probably not a big deal.

But a much more crucial issue is this.  If you do change your SSID,
you're likely going to have to reconfigure every client device you
have that already knows that SSID, because your altered SSID is going
to look like an entirely different access point.  This will probably
mean re-inputting your (hopefully WPA2, but perhaps WPA or even [ugh]
WEP) passwords, and doing this for everything that previously knew
that original SSID without the _nomap suffix.

More on this later.

Good night.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org 
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com 
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com 
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com