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Microsoft wants to map the world, one WiFi node at a time

Microsoft wants to map the world, one WiFi node at a time
Microsoft wants to map the world, one WiFi node at a time

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Microsoft turning the Internet into a spy network
Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2005 08:08:41 -0400
From: Richard M. Smith  
To: 'Declan McCullagh'  

I outlined a system like this in 2003:

The Internet as the Ultimate Surveillance Network 

Other folks have been working on similar WiFi location systems since 2000: 

Of course, one can also get in trouble for using someone else's WiFi AP:

Wireless hijacking under scrutiny 



Microsoft tracks WiFi for new mapping system
Move is part of a plan to create alternative to GPS satellite system
By Richard Waters
Updated: 2:33 p.m. ET July 25, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO - Is someone listening in to the signal from your wireless
computer network, photographing your house or putting a detailed map of your
neighborhood online for anyone to see?

In a new initiative, Microsoft has dispatched cars to trawl many city and
suburban streets across the U.S. to locate the signals sent out by millions
of short-range home and office wireless (or WiFi) networks. (MSNBC is a
Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

The unusual move, now being repeated in the U.K. and some other countries,
is part of a plan to create a ground-based location system as an alternative
to the GPS satellite system. This echoes an effort by A9, a search engine
owned by, the online retailer, to use trucks with cameras mounted
on the roof to photograph millions of store fronts in the U.S..

Microsoft says it has a database containing the whereabouts of "millions" of
WiFi networks, while A9's Web site gives access to 26m pictures from 20 US

Microsoft has also used low-flying aircraft to catch big urban centers on
film, while the software company and Google, the search company, are racing
to make widely available the most detailed satellite images of every corner
of the earth's surface.

These and other initiatives are now being extended internationally, as the
Internet companies vie to attract users.

Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a
U.S. pressure group, said, taken together, some of the powerful new mapping
and tracking tools on the Internet could represent a threat to privacy. The
Internet companies say their satellite and aerial photos many of which are
already available publicly, even if not over the Internet do not provide a
high enough level of detail to identify individuals or car license plates.

Microsoft said it had collected only the unique identifier, known as a MAC
address which each WiFi network broadcasts. This could not be traced to an
address or an individual user.

Microsoft said that, by recording the position of every MAC address on a
giant map, it had created a positioning system that would make it possible
for anyone with a WiFi-enabled laptop computer to identify their location to
within 30.5 meters.

C The Financial Times Ltd 2005. "FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks of
the Financial Times.

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