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Google intros privacy solution for home routers, forces users to opt out

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 7:35PM EST

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Google has announced a new privacy option that allows users to opt out of having their wireless routers included in the Google Location Server. That’s right, you have to opt out, not in. Here’s how Google Location Server works: when you’re walking around town trying to figure out your location using your smartphone and Google Maps, your phone can either use GPS or a faster, more battery efficient method that determines your location based on local wireless networks. Google maintains a database of local wireless access points but, if you don’t want to be included in it, you can simply change your router SSID (the network name that you broadcast) to include “_nomap” at the end of the access point name. Once you’ve done that, Google will not include your wireless access point in its Google Location Server database. “As we explored different approaches for opting-out access points from the Google Location Server, we found that a method based on wireless network names provides the right balance of simplicity as well as protection against abuse,” Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Felischer said in a blog post. “Specifically, this approach helps protect against others opting out your access point without your permission.”