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Google to Add Opt-Out for Wi-Fi Location Database

Google is planning to allow users worldwide to opt-out from their Wi-Fi hotspot location database later this fall. The announcement, made on the search giant's European public policy blog, is surely a response to legal troubles the company has encountered after it was revealed that the process of mapping these hotspots also captured information about individual Wi-Fi devices like computers and smartphones. Google has also run into legal trouble when the company admitted in 2010 that it had inadvertently intercepted fragments of data being sent over the networks it was mapping. The information in this database allows Google to estimate the geographic position of a user based on the known positions of Wi-Fi hotspots. Early iterations of the iPhone determined location in the exact same manner, using a database from SkyHook. To create their own database, Google's streetview cars were equipped with Wi-Fi sniffing sensors that mapped the location of every wireless device they came across, as well as some they didn't intend.

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