05.30.10

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Google: Do Know Evil?

Posted in Google, Patents at 2:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michelangelo separation

Summary: Google not only does “evil”; it patents it, too

Remember those defensive claims from Google that its Wi-Fi sniffin’ was all just an unfortunate accident/mistake? Well, it wasn’t. Google is being dishonest and there is a software patent to prove it. As Slashdot puts it:

“After mistakenly saying that it did not collect Wi-Fi payload data, Google had to reverse itself, saying ‘it’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks.’ OK, mistakes happen. But, as Seinfeld might ask, then what’s the deal with the pending Google patent that describes capturing wireless data packets by operating a device — which ‘may be placed in a vehicle’ — in a ‘sniffer’ or ‘monitor’ mode and analyzing them on a server? Guess belated kudos are owed to the savvy Slashdot commenter who speculated back in January that the patent-pending technology might be useful inside a Google Street View vehicle. Google faces inquiries into its Wi-Fi packet sniffing practices by German and US authorities.”

Google should be commended for its more beneficial deeds (WebM/VP8 for example) but Google must always be denounced when it steps out of line. So what’s more “evil” here? The software patent or the intrusive sniffin’? Either way, Google should drop software patents [1, 2].

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8 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    May 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Gravatar

    Well, don’t forget that just because something is patented doesn’t mean that they intend it to be (let along actually is) implemented!

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    True, but what bothers me more is the flow of software patents from Google.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    May 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Gravatar

    In fact, see this slashdot comment:
    http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1668910&cid=32388258

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    And read the actual patent too.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220100020776%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20100020776&RS=DN/20100020776

    Abstract (for brevity):

    “The invention pertains to location approximation of devices, e.g., wireless access points and client devices in a wireless network. Location estimates may be obtained by observation/analysis of packets transmitted or received by the access point. For instance, data rate information associated with a packet is used to approximate the distance between a client device and the access point. This may be coupled with known positioning information to arrive at an approximate location for the access point. Confidence information and metrics about whether a device is an access point and the location of that device may also be determined. Accuracy of the location determination may be affected by factors including propagation and environmental factors, transmit power, antenna gain and diversity, etc. A location information database of access points may employ measurements from various devices over time. Such information may identify the location of client devices and provide location-based services to them.”

    So yes, it’s a software patent for ‘surveillance’.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    But does it include examining the payload of the apcket

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    apcket should be packet, of course.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s a desired monopoly, not a specification.

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