What exactly is Google up to? That's the question some may ask based on recent news that the search giant's Street View cars are scanning private WLAN networks. Although there's no word if Google is conducting its invasion of privacy here in the States, German officials have discovered that the automobiles are not only scanning consumer-based networks, but is possibly obtaining users' unique Mac addresses in the process.
Naturally, this has ruffled a few feathers, especially Germany's Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar who said that he's simply "horrified" by the discovery. He's worried about the implications of Google's acquired information, especially when the various pieces of data are connected to identify each individual residing on the Internet.
According to The Register, German broadcaster ARD is already requesting that Google shut down its local Street View project."I am appalled… I call upon Google to delete previously unlawfully collected personal data on the wireless network immediately and stop the rides for Street View," said the ARD.
Currently Google has not launched Street View in Germany, nor has it published the WLAN map. As Softpedia points out, Google has always said that it was scanning for Wi-Fi networks and mobile phone relays with Street View cars. Supposedly the data collected by the scanners would help consumers find the nearest Internet hotspot. What wasn't apparent was that the Street View cars would scan neighborhoods as well.
Should Germany be concerned over the WLAN scanning? Every nation should be concerned, especially after Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that Internet users shouldn't worry about privacy unless they have something to hide.