Google Street View vehicles are all over the place. They photograph streets, people walking (albeit with blurred faces), cars, and homes. They also capture your Wifi network information including your MAC addresses and SSIDs.
From ZDNet’s article:
So here’s the scenario. Google’s Street View vehicles are traveling all over the world, sucking as much information into Google’s ginormous databases as they can find. Some of that information shows up in the publicly-available Street View application and some, apparently doesn’t. According to an article in the German SPIEGEL ONLINE (and oh-so-helpfully — and ironically — translated by Google Translate), Google’s roving spy cars are also cataloging WiFi network information, including MAC addresses and available SSIDs.
Google, according to SPIEGEL, claims that acquiring public WiFi data is nothing new or strange (I’ll save you the translation from English to German, and back to English). The basic idea is that there have been public WiFi hotspot directories for years, and Google’s act of cataloging those it finds is nothing new or sinister.
While Google’s hunger for all available data can be scary at times, there’s nothing new about gathering available wireless information. Any fairly competent IT administrator knows how to use a network protocol analyzer and if a network is configured to leak any information into the public airwaves, that’s ultimately a problem of poor network administration and not Google’s greed for digital data.
I do believe it would be unwise for Google to publish MAC addresses on Street View. It doesn’t really add any value and it would put network devices at more risk (especially if a MAC address can be ascertained by just looking at a Google map anywhere in the world, rather than having to be within wireless access distance, which is usually just down the street).
It’s probably nothing. I hope. But it’s scary how much one company knows way too much information about you!