This is something I have discussed previously on a number of BBS systems, seems some in the press are actually surprised about what is going on.
Daily mail discovers the truth ?!!!
This situation goes back to the “big mistake” and the ‘naughty google engineer”, this was when google was caught recording WiFi traffic (actually Google made it clear that it was not ‘them’ but some over zealous engineers, I would guess it was also the same engineers that approved the budget to fit all the google cars/bikes with the necessary equipment needed to perform this task)
In reality ‘someone’ just needed a significant number of WiFi locations so they could build a WiFi triangulation database.
With such a system there is no need for a GPS receiver in the users device.
Even when you are unable to log into a WiFi network, your device still sees the WiFi network , and as such the ‘unique’ MAC & SSID, if the user has not disabled/hidden the SSID* (note it is STILL possible to obtain the SSID with a bit of lateral thinking)
If you are lucky/unlucky enough to have access to an open WiFi point, android is capable of reporting this information back to a 3rd party, this then tells the 3rd party which other WiFi networks you can ‘see’ and as such provides a multiple point triangulation system to the 3rd party. (I have tested this and it has the capability to be highly accurate), worse from the MAC allocation you can obtain the manufacturers registration information, thereby giving a map of which devices are in the area.
The more devices there are, the more valuable information there is to be ‘had’, now consider if you have ‘bluetooth’ enabled on your device, this allows the WiFi section to be able to probe the area for Blue-tooth devices,even though you may not have security access to such devices, they still need to be visible to enable connection.
As a result the 3rd party can then start building databases of information such as:
- Location (not just of users that have ‘actively’ allowed collection of the information ,but also of users that have opted OUT of collection of the information, via them being able to be seen by devices that have opted in)
- Potential sales information. (what other equipment you have, as you move about any devices continually within your WiFi/ Blue-tooth range , must be with you, this can reveal your net-worth or how ‘geeky’ you are, thereby generating potential sales opportunities
- Daily/Weekly travel patterns
- Spy device to help identify other fixed devices (WiFi) devices not yet identified, including hidden SSID’s (since to log onto a device with a hidden SSID you need to know it, thereby allowing a breach in the security setup of the device)
As we become more connected and the devices become capable of scanning barcodes /RFID tags, we get to a stage where the surrounding documents and potential sales opportunities can be targeted (RFID passports/clothing etc)
It is dangerous times for people interested in privacy and freedom , both Apple and Google need to be brought to heel before it is too late.
(I actually got my Estate management to put up “private road” signs and BAN all Google vehicles and staff from the area)