July 25, 2011 12:14 AM PDT
by Declan McCullagh
According to CNET News, Google's Street View cars collected the locations of millions of laptops, cell phones, printers, and other wireless devices around the world. Read more.
Comment: Google was already in hot water after it was discovered earlier this year that its Street View mapping effort had collected the location of unencrypted wi-fi networks during its world-wide development. Indeed, several countries have either commenced legal action or are contemplating same, with a BBC News article about the situation: "Google Accused of Criminal Intent Over StreetView Data", being typical.
While this latest disclosure about cell phones and wireless devices is only certain to add to the controversy, privacy concerns as described above are only one edge of the "geolocation sword". The other edge is emergency response systems like Next Generation 911 will not work without the ability to determine the geospatial location of Voice Over IP systems (i.e. Vontage, Magic Jack) and cell phones.
For further insights into the complexities of this issue, go here.