[clug] googlebot doing funny things in logs

Robert Edwards bob at cs.anu.edu.au
Thu Jun 16 19:42:48 MDT 2011

On 16/06/11 18:04, Angus Gratton wrote:
> ... and we're back on the list! :P
> On Thu, 2011-06-16 at 17:24 +1000, Hal Ashburner wrote:
>> I have no idea what Google would be looking for or how they would be
>> looking for it.
>> Having been one of those who scoffed and said "Damn unlikely" when the
>> whole wireless streetview story broke, and then were proven very, very
>> wrong - once bitten.
> The thing about the wireless streetview thing is that data is really
> potentially very useful for locating people without GPS. People found it
> creepy and Google probably shouldn't have done it, but I can see why
> it's useful and why engineers would go "yes, that's a brilliant solution
> to a complex problem!" While they ignored the human aspects, of
> course. ;)

We've had students doing research on triangulating position based on
signal strength, SSID, MAC etc. from the various WAPs in our buildings
from at least 6 years ago - nothing new or novel about it.

What may be a worry is when you dynamically query the system and
provide the list of WAPs, SSIDs, MACs etc. that you can see. At this
point in time, you are effectively telling the system where you are.

Whoever owns and controls the system can now index your location and
time etc.

Others also have databases of this data available. Using other geo-
location services can spread around who knows how much about where
you are.

Better still if you could download the entire database (for a given
region you are likely to be in) and then you can query that local copy
to your hearts content without leaking where and when you are to the
organisation providing the geo-location service.


Bob Edwards.

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