Google offers opt-out for WiFi mapping, the joke is on users

It's always been known that Google collects public WiFi data to provide "faster mapping services" to mobile devices, and the service was never exactly "opt-in." The company uses their Street View cars to harvest the data, as well as mobile devices. It puts that data into their public location database. Now, the company has announced a way to opt out of the service, but it seems like they're almost mocking users.

Back in September, the company announced that the service would be opt-out and that the company would not use your WiFi data when you choose this option. In a post on the Google Blog today, the company announced that option. It's adding a string to your SSID, specifically "_nomap.” ​If your wireless access point name is "Rainbows and Ponies" it'll now have to be "Rainbows and Ponies_nomap." if you want Google to stop using your public data.

It almost seems like Google is joking about this, but they're dead serious. For some reason, the company seems to think that the 99% of people who care about this actually will know how to change their SSID, however we question if those people even know they need a wireless router to access the internet. Most people just connect to the telco provided device with the default key and stop caring.

Google offers router specific information for changing the SSID here. The company says they only use publicly broadcast information, including the SSID of the device and the MAC address of the router. Apparently the SSID name-change option was chosen by Google as it stops others opting your access point out of the service without your permission. Are we the only ones that think this is a joke?

Luckily, you won't have to wait for the Street View car to roll by your place again for it to update though. Next time a mobile device sends information about your WiFi access point and sees the "nomap" string, they'll drop it from their location database. ​Hooray.

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