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America Online

+ - AOL: The biggest Wi-Fi privacy invader ever?

Submitted by
PetManimal
PetManimal writes "Preston Gralla points to a project being carried out by Skyhook Wireless, an AOL business partner, to build a private database of 16 million Wi-Fi routers throughout the U.S. and Canada, including network name and precise location. Skyhook has been gathering the data by driving trucks with Wi-Fi and GPS gear up and down streets in 2,500 cities and towns in North America. The data is apparently being gathered to support the AIM "Near Me" plugin which will show potential instant messaging buddies in your vicinity, but Gralla sees a more sinister side of the Skyhook project:

... Who's to say that they're only gathering basic information about your router? Will they also gather whether it uses encryption or not? Will they grab other information as well? One thing is very clear: Skyhook Wireless isn't spending all this money just so it can support an AOL plug-in. Its ultimate goal, it says on its Web site, "is to expand the market for Location-Based Services (LBS) by making precise location information accessible to users and application providers." In other words, the data will be made available to the highest bidder.
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