privacy

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Router Swap, anyone?

In a reaction to Google's wardriving, I'm thinking of setting up a website to facilitate a mass swap-meet for people to exchange their wi-fi routers.

Google stepped a bit over the line (again) this week. This time, it was focused around a new effort to make it easier to geo-locate a web browser's location.

As they've been driving around in those cute cars taking images for the google maps Street View tool, they have also been mapping the identifying information of every available 802.11 wireless access point (wi-fi) and storing that information along with longitude and latitude information. I'm not sure how I feel about the image street views has of me walking down Central Park West after a meeting, but the idea that they have locative information on my wireless access point definitely upsets me.

Having been helping the folks at Open Greenmap with technology planning and development, I understand the desire to map this information. Most cellular devices (phones, iPhones, androids, etc.) are able to report their GPS coordinates when they request data from a web server. This allows for a site like Opengreenmap.org to give a mobile devices information on interesting places in proximity to where the user is at that time (that's a hypothetical, opengreenmap.org will be able to do this soon). This is not possible for people using laptops (or desktops) connected to the net via a wired network or a wifi access point. Someone looking for interesting green locations from a coffee shop has to go through a few more steps to search the maps.

What I'm blocking this week

A little follow-up on my earlier post about using ad block plus to keep google analytics from violating your privacy :

Here are the filters that I've added in this past week:

*.hitbox.com/*
drupal.org/files/hbx/hbx.js

blocking the google hive mind

In an online discussion today, Matt pointed out to me that google analytics is less than useful because it is so easy for people to block the google javascript file via the firefox adblock add on.

Yet another reason to tell clients and friends to avoid getting hooked on google analytics.

So, everyone follow along:

Step one: get firefox ( http://getfirefox.com )
Step two: get the ad block plus addon ( https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1865 )
Step three: open the ad block plus preferences
Step four: click "add filter" and put http://www.google-analytics.com/* in the field; click save

Done, you have no protected yourself (a bit) against the intrusion of google in your life.

A small rant about Google Analytics and Privacy Statements

This week I once again had the debate with a site's legal team about how using google analytics violates the privacy of a site's users.

This is not a huge issue for many sites, but if your site has a privacy statement, you are legally bound to adhere to it -- and many privacy statements are explicitly violated by the use of google analytics.