... is it acceptable for Google not only to drive around the country collecting photographic information about its citizens, but also to sniff their WiFi router SSIDs?
Sure, broadcasting your SSID on a wireless network does put the information in the public domain, but at the same time it is limited to the local area, with a few hundred metres normally. Of course 'some kid with an iPod' could wander by and capture your SSID - so what? But of course most kids with iPods have better things to do than snoop on the entire population. And if the data collection has been done both serruptitiously and systematically by Google, alarm bells really should start ringing. Don't forget that Google also collects information about the searches people are making. It doesn't take a genius to see the potential for them mining their database for all sorts of juicy derived information about individuals. And in the US (where Google comes from), the very concept of personal privacy is funadamentally different to most of the rest of the world. In the US, whoever holds personal data effectively owns it and can do pretty much what they like with it, whereas in the civilized world, 'data subjects' own and have some semblance of control over personal data about themselves.
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