The recent fuss about Google sniffing open WiFi networks while driving around taking images for street view is really not as big a deal as fear mongering politicians like Stephen Conroy would have you believe. Here are some points worth considering.
1. Open wireless networks are exactly that.. they are open to anyone that wants to connect to them. In Australia at least, if you don’t secure your wireless network, it’s not illegal for others to connect to it and you only have yourself to blame.
2. Connecting to a wireless network is not instant, it takes about 3 to 5 seconds to connect, be assigned an IP address and a route and start sniffing. Now picture your wireless router with a circle of at most 80 meters around it. Now picture a car driving past at 40km an hour….. by the time they were fully connected and able to catch packets, they’d be leaving range of your wireless network anyway so the amount of data that would be captured would be fairly tiny (like maybe 2 to 5kb). What that means, is that it wouldn’t even be a full email or file or anything remotely useful, and it wouldn’t be tied to you personally anyway. Google scientists are not reading your emails or browsing though your hard disks so relax people.
3. From what I’ve read, Google collected only roughly 600 gig from the entire world, most of that would be SSID names and assigned IP’s, so as I said in point 2, the amount of data we are talking about here, per wireless network is truly tiny.
As a test. I drove down the street past a couple of open wireless networks at 30kph and each time by the time my phone connected, I was already leaving wireless range.
As far as I am concerned, if you have not secured your wireless yourself, or paid someone to, then you shouldn’t have any expectation of wireless privacy at all. If you feel violated, you have only yourself to blame as people who secured their network have nothing to worry about with this.