Google Will Offer Wi-Fi Opt-Out Tool To Improve User Privacy & Appease European Regulators

Google Logo - StockWith the smoke still smoldering from Google’s long-running battle over the collection of personal information via unsecured WiFi networks, the company says it’s working on a service that will allow WiFi router owners to opt-out from being included in Google’s location services.

In a blog post yesterday, Google says the opt-out will be available to people around the world.

Even though the wireless access point signals we use in our location services don’t identify people, we think we can go further in protecting people’s privacy. At the request of several European data protection authorities, we are building an opt-out service that will allow an access point owner to opt out from Google’s location services. Once opted out, our services will not use that access point to determine users’ locations.

Google has been in hot water for about 18 months now, since the first revelation that the company’s Street View vehicles had been collecting personal information over unencrypted WiFi networks. Google has insisted that the data was collected accidentally, but that hasn’t stopped some governments — particularly in Europe — from demanding increased privacy measures from Google. Many countries have determined that Google broke local privacy laws, but only one — France — has so far issued a financial penalty.

Google says the opt-out service will be available later this fall.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Legal | Google: Outside US | Google: Street View | Legal: Privacy


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • M.D.

    I don’t think Google have gone far enough in this case, it should be Opt-in not require Opt-out, same as antispam laws in Europe.

  • Maurice Walshe

    so will the other companies that agressivly use location data from wifi AP’s as a poor mans location service also do this – “fairness not favours eh”

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