The company’s free wireless service in San Francisco would allow Google to monitor all its users’ whereabouts–ostensibly to serve up location-specific advertising. The feeling you just got? That would be the hairs on the back on your neck rising.

San Francisco Chronicle:

Wi-Fi plan stirs Big Brother concerns Log-on rule would allow Google to track users’ whereabouts in S.F. – Verne Kopytoff, Chronicle Staff Writer Saturday, April 8, 2006

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Privacy advocates are raising concerns about Google Inc.’s plans to cover San Francisco with free wireless Internet access, calling the company’s proposal to track users’ locations a potential gold mine of information for law enforcement and private litigators.

The Mountain View search engine intends to use the geographic data to match users with advertising so that they would see marketing messages from neighborhood businesses such as pizza parlors, cafes and book stores.

Google plans to use technology that would allow it to track users’ whereabouts within a few hundred feet. The company said in its bid that it would retain the data for up to 180 days before deleting it, as part of an effort to “maintain the Google Wi-Fi network and deliver the best possible service.”


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