Google's deal to provide free Wi-Fi to San Francisco residents is barely a week old, and it's already stirring up plenty of controversy.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Google will use geographic data to match users with advertising when they sign on to the wireless network.
Users can avoid the ads if they agree to pay $20 a month for a faster service from EarthLink, although that hasn't assuaged some concerned residents. But many bloggers said the fuss was overblown--no one is forced to use the service, after all.
Blog community response:
"Is this the greatest invasion of privacy ever? Probably not. Your cellphone provider is already tracking you--unless you preserve some privacy by using a pay-as-you-go phone--and it knows where you live."
--Guardian Technology blog
"In other words, if people are really worried about this, it seems like there are much more worrisome location tracking services that they should be paying attention too. At the same time, no one is ever required to use Google's free WiFi. Hell, part of the deal is that this network will also have a fee-based offering from Earthlink that (we assume) won't be so focused on location-specific info."
"If companies like Google could just make a stand and use their technology powers for good, there are ways that they could ensure that the information was never used for any purpose other than the stated one. Then I'd be okay with it. But they won't do that, of course. All that beautiful, valuable data is there to be cherry-picked by government agents or hackers."