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Google Deducing Wireless Location Data

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the peekaboo-the-van-sees-you dept.

Cellphones 90

bizwriter writes "When it comes to knowing where wireless users are, the carriers have had a lock on the data. But a patent application shows that Google is trying to deduce the information based on packet headers and estimated transmission rates. This would let it walk right around carriers and become another source of location data to advertisers."

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90 comments

Amazing Google (4, Insightful)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959362)

You gotta admire Google. They are so endlessly, avidly proliferating themselves. If they ever turn evil we could be in a lot of trouble.

Re:Amazing Google (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959406)

If they ever turn evil we could be in a lot of trouble.

If? [slashdot.org]

Re:Amazing Google (1, Insightful)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959480)

That article was written four years ago, and apparently Google's stance towards China has changed since then, what with the recent hacking. You might want to find a better example of Google being evil.

Re:Amazing Google (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959568)

It was just an example, the first one I could find. Google has been cooperating with the Chinese govt. in terms of censoring their results since 2006. Google only very recently showed their unwillingness to continue censoring their results after the infamous hack on Google's operations. There isn't any evidence that Google did this for anything other than selfish reasons.

Re:Amazing Google (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959622)

Google is a publicly traded company. They have to answer to their shareholders, lets see here, they could either ignore 1/6th of the earths population or be like every other company and censor. Google has a legal duty to do not what is morally right, but what is in their shareholder's interest. Completely ignoring a billion people is not what shareholders want. Google figured that now would be their best time to speak out against it and have the maximum impact.

It would be one thing if Microsoft, Yahoo, and every other search engine stood up against the Chinese government but they didn't.

Re:Amazing Google (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959696)

Google has a legal duty to do not what is morally right, but what is in their shareholder's interest

I *know* that I'm going to be burning some karma here but to me, "the shareholders made them do it" isn't an excuse for violating human rights.

Google figured that now would be their best time to speak out against it and have the maximum impact.

They were just hacked and at the time, it was believed to be the work of Chinese hackers. This I suspect had a lot to do with why Google threatened to pull out of China and stop cooperating with the Chinese govt. In any case, I believe that my original point still stands; Google may have not broken any laws by participating in censorship in China but that does not mean they aren't evil. Willingly abiding by evil laws is evil in of its self.

Re:Amazing Google (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959714)

since when has an unfiltered web search been elevated to the status of a human right? access to the internet at all could be called a luxury for most of the worlds population.

and it's stupid to think a single hack on google is going to scare them out of china, what do you think this is, 8th grade? companys the size of google are not frightened in the slightest.

Re:Amazing Google (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959752)

Freedom of speech. Governments should never be given an inherent right to censor speech of individuals nor the private sector in general.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959748)

I *know* that I'm going to be burning some karma here but to me, "the shareholders made them do it" isn't an excuse for violating human rights.

So what do you do? Do you leave yourself open to being sued into oblivion by angry shareholders? Do you allow yourself to be fired and a head appointed who will violate those human rights? Or do you save your own skin and hope to make a difference later on down the line?

They were just hacked and at the time, it was believed to be the work of Chinese hackers. This I suspect had a lot to do with why Google threatened to pull out of China and stop cooperating with the Chinese govt. In any case, I believe that my original point still stands; Google may have not broken any laws by participating in censorship in China but that does not mean they aren't evil. Willingly abiding by evil laws is evil in of its self.

Not only were they hacked, but Google has in a few short years grown to have a huge presence in China. Before establishing a presence in China, most Chinese wouldn't care if Google didn't deliver search results, now if Google steps out of China they know that something has been disrupted, eventually they will find out it is because the government made them censor things, with this information finding what was censored is simple curiosity, leading to more understanding of it and its evils. People don't like to be knowingly oppressed, but if people don't know they are oppressed, they won't do a thing to stop it.

And I know how we all think we are great idealists and we'd never do anything like this but what would you tell your family? Its not like there are companies having a shortage of labor....

Re:Amazing Google (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959862)

Do you leave yourself open to being sued into oblivion by angry shareholders?

It looks like it is time to reform those liability laws.

And I know how we all think we are great idealists and we'd never do anything like this but what would you tell your family? Its not like there are companies having a shortage of labor...

Doing the right thing isn't always easy. If it were, there wouldn't be nearly so many oppressive regimes in the world. However, a line must be drawn in the sand at some point that tells those governments to frak themselves and their censorship.

Re:Amazing Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30960788)

Do you allow yourself to be fired and a head appointed who will violate those human rights? Or do you save your own skin and hope to make a difference later on down the line?

"If I don't violate their human rights unwillingly then someone else might violate them and enjoy it"? Well, sure, take that approach if you're a coward and you don't mind becoming that someone else after 5 years of beating down the increasingly feeble complaints of your conscience.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962086)

So what would you sugget Google to do ? Back out of China ?

How will that change anything ? Then Google will simply be replaced by someone who is willing to cope with China's censorship demands.

A more drastic (fictional i hope ) example could be like this : say you are providing medical help to a foreign country , who was just struck by some major disaster. Then the goverment tells you that you can help a certain group of people , but not some other group .And if you speak out against it , you won't be allowed to help anyone.

How do you cope with that ? No matter what you do , it's wrong.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961296)

So what do you do?

You make a choice that defines you as a man. The dark side or the light side. You will pick the dark side, tell others to pick the dark side, and be a man not to be respected by your family and environment. Well done..not!

Re:Amazing Google (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30966862)

In general shareholder lawsuits only have a chance in cases of fraud or deception. If the board tells you what they are planning, and then follows through with it, then your only recourse as a shareholder is to either sell the stock or try to buy enough stock to vote out the board. Stock holders really don't have much say when it comes to running a company.

Re:Amazing Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30960170)

the ignorance of the above comments is irritating. for one, google is NOT answerable to its shareholders like other big publicly traded companies are. when you buy google stock you agree to their special terms! are you aware that baidu's stock shot up on even the slightest mention google might just pull out of china? google would dump tons and tons of future profits based on ethics here. do you think losing ~200 million a year because of their reluctance to remove the i'm feleling lucky button equates to selfishness also?

i'm so sick of people dissing google simply because they make assumptions. google spends millions of dollars employing lawyers to fight the us government's desire for user data while other companies just give it away to make money like yahoo, for example.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30960352)

google spends millions of dollars employing lawyers to fight the us government's desire for user data

Why do you suppose that is? They do it for their own selfish reasons. In that case, it is in their selfish interest to protect privacy to a degree to avoid losing market-share from user paranoia. Selfishness isn't automatically evil; the result is what matters. What Google did in China wasn't evil simply because it was done for selfish reasons. It was evil because censorship is inherently immoral.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30960746)

It was evil because censorship is inherently immoral.

Americans have a thing about censorship but really, all countries censor, it's only a matter of degree. Whether it's military secrets, privacy concerns, protecting children from pornography, DRM, commercial-in-confidence or religious fundamentalism all organizations including government censor speech. To call it inherently immoral to censor is silly.

In any case fixating on speech, while somewhat important, is secondary to focusing on action. Actions speak louder than words.

---

Marketing talk is not just cheap, it has negative value. Free speech can be compromised just as much by too much noise as too little signal.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964804)

Americans have a thing about censorship but really, all countries censor, it's only a matter of degree.

That doesn't make it right.

In any case fixating on speech, while somewhat important, is secondary to focusing on action. Actions speak louder than words.

Act on what? China censors speech to prevent the citizenry from contimplating action. Same goes for Iran. Action generally follows speech; to censor speech is also to censor action. For the record, only some Americans really give a fuck about speech. The rest are content with the FCC regulating TV, radio and newspapers; making a big deal out of wardrobe malfunctions, the occasional fuck and other pursuits of the puritan mindset.

Re:Amazing Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959890)

Except the founders own a majority holding of stock.

mod parent up (kind of) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30960020)

Rather, they own a majority of the voting interest between founders & CEO. The initial prospectus made it clear that they would control the company, based on the share structure, and that public shareholders would simply be along for the ride.

Besides which, look at Shlensky v. Wrigley for how shareholders typically can't dictate management decisions beyond hiring and firing management:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&q=shlensky+v.+wrigley&aq=0&aqi=g2&oq=shlensky+v [google.com]

Re:Amazing Google (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30960180)

Wow, that is the densest post I have seen in a long time. Companies ignore the interest of shareholders all the time. Apple, for example, would be paying dividends if it really cared about its shareholders. They have the cash, and a lot of shareholders really want it.

The legal requirements towards shareholders is really weak. About the only thing you can't do is deceive the shareholders about what you are planning.

Completely ignoring a billion people is not what shareholders want.

That's really bold of you to speak for all those people you don't know. In fact, in this case we know that the significant portion of Google shareholders actually do want Google to stop censoring search results in China.

Companies are run by people. They aren't faceless borgs; the problem is you don't know the faces of the people running the companies, so it's easy for you to imagine they are evil. In reality they are no more evil than the people running them.

Re:Amazing Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30960738)

Google is a publicly traded company. They have to answer to their shareholders, lets see here, they could either ignore 1/6th of the earths population or be like every other company and censor. Google has a legal duty to do not what is morally right, but what is in their shareholder's interest. Completely ignoring a billion people is not what shareholders want. Google figured that now would be their best time to speak out against it and have the maximum impact.

It would be one thing if Microsoft, Yahoo, and every other search engine stood up against the Chinese government but they didn't.

Its an obligation not a legal duty.

It sad that big corporations care more about money than about moral implications

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961438)

If "The Shareholders" have a say in what Google will do, then "The Shareholders" are part of Google. If "The Shareholders" require Google to do evil, then Google is evil.

That said, having Google in china does more towards freedom than against it.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962926)

the "shareholders" are essentially Larry & Sergy with their 50% stake.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962892)

that's overly simplistic. Ignore a billion people paying you 2c per month or piss off and damage your brand in the eyes of another billion people who are giving you billions in profit per year? China has a lot people but not a whole lot of revenue... Google's brand in western countries is worth a whole lot more.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959794)

Similar examples about Microsoft's behavior gets a "so what?" response, while for Google it gets a "they're so evil" response. That would imply it is still not the norm for Google to be evil. I guess you could say they're still in the Anikin phase, with evidence Darth Vader is in there somewhere.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959822)

Similar examples about Microsoft's behavior gets a "so what?" response, while for Google it gets a "they're so evil" response.

When your reputation is ruined, you can act without shame.

Re:Amazing Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959482)

So communists are the evil now?

They're a communist corporation?

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959802)

Nah, they're a search engine looking for data to index.

Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30960214)

Nah, they're a search engine looking for data to index.

Nah, they're a market analytics company looking for more markets to analyze. I'm amazed that so few have figured out yet that Google's innovation was not search engines but the business model that actually turned their user base back into a crop to be harvested, like the mass marketing execs have been wishing for ever since the boom times of print and TV were not accelerating anymore.

Re:Amazing Google (2, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959634)

call me if Google manages to pass any of the wireless carriers on the 'evil' scale...if it's even possible.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959792)

They'll just set the evil bit.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30960146)

It would be compounding their evility if the carriers removed the evil bit.

Would google be evil for forging it back in?

Would the carriers be evil again for reremoving it?

Minds boggle, at least mine.

Re:Amazing Google (3, Interesting)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959466)

I hope they figure it out, because ATT somehow keeps my new Samsung phone from running Google maps properly. It can't figure out where it is at all. Makes it useless.

I don't want to pay the fuckers "by the drink" for a GPS service. And I want to strangle the marketer that invented that idiotic bit of buzzword bingo too.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962552)

What model? I recall reading somewhere that it appears in a "games and more" category on Samsung, which is an admittedly bad place to put it...

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30967704)

Samsung Flight.

The app itself goes where you put it. The cell id information on the help screen looks ok, but it doesn't display my current location from it.

Re:Amazing Google (2, Interesting)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959522)

I can't remember the name, but in Snowcrash there was a company that was privatized from the government made up of the NSA and the Library of Congress. Google demonstrates more of the fictional company's capabilities every day

Re:Amazing Google (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959558)

Central Intelligence Corporation. Also interesting in that they obtained their data essentially by crowdsourcing from amateur spies.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959652)

I love Google, but lets be realistic, its not a matter of if, its a matter of when. The current crew may not be evil even, but they won't be there forever.

I still find this sort of thing great though, I don't plan on owning an Android device so I'm not real concerned about them spamming me with ads or whatever they plan on building in, and even with that, I'd rather be spammed with location aware ads than something thats no where near me.

It might be nice to be told that theres a new place to eat a few blocks away from the comedy club when you walk in the door, or told about some random concert I'd like to see in the park while down at city hall paying that speeding ticket I shouldn't have got.

For now, I'll take what Google offers, but I'll make sure to cover my bases so I can pull out if I need to.

The key to avoiding Google going evil and being really damaging to you is to exercise responsibility for your data and actions and consider very carefully that it can be used in all sorts of ways you don't expect. Sadly, I'm one of those people that thinks of ways to screw you over, I think its a side effect of working with a sys admin who was a security genius because he could think of all the ways to do evil. He was in love with hacking just to be the guy who did it, crazy spider sense too, woke up in the middle of the night one day because he had a dream about a virus infection spreading at the office, which ... it was. Had it fixed before anyone showed up the next morning ... And no, he didn't cause it. Scary, fortunately he's a good guy.

Re:Amazing Google (2, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959966)

I'd rather be spammed with location aware ads than something thats no where near me.

I frequently see variants of this notion and I still don't understand it.

I generally don't impulse-buy. I believe that the model of independently determining my wants and needs and then shopping for the best solution available soundly beats the model of listening to a company tell me why that company is good for me, buying items for needs I never even knew I had. As in, I don't just think that sounds good, I really believe that which means I practice it. So, unless it is free broadcast radio or free broadcast television, I don't want to see active ads of any kind. They're useless for me. They're also useless for the advertiser, as the sole effect they have on my purchasing decisions is that if one is particularly annoying, I make it a point to go with a competitor.

I'm fine with passive advertisements. They are more like opt-in/client-pull, whereas active advertisements are more like opt-out/server-push. Good examples are directories like the Yellow Pages and any online equivalents. When I want something your company sells, I know where to find you. Until then, I don't want to hear from you and it's in your business interests not to contact me against my will since I won't buy from people who are pushy. By nature, there's no reason for these to be location-aware.

I think this is more common than what would be immediately apparent. Even if it isn't, consider that lots of people who are influenced by ads will still go to some trouble to block them. So the point is not so much the motivation, it's that the goal of many is to avoid ads, at least when it comes to a service you are already paying for, such as cellphone service. In that case, why would I care about whether an ad is location-aware? I'm not going to respond to it favorably anyway. To me, saying "at least the ads were location-aware" is like being fatally stabbed with a spear and saying "at least it's been polished recently", as though a tarnished spear is less fatal than a shiny one. It's actually much worse because location-aware means that someone knows my location whether or not I wanted to disclose this information to them. As a customer, unwanted and unauthorized disclosure of my personal information is not something I care to pay for.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Polumna (1141165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30960508)

I do not disagree with you in general. However, if I might attempt to provide some insight into why targeted ads are at least marginally better... at least as I see it:

First, I also almost always research most purchases greater than, say, $15. I will actually use google ads as one small part of that research. (Also, pertaining specifically to location based advertisements, as an example, I'd love to make a hobby out of random restaurant visits to holes-in-the-wall I wouldn't have heard of otherwise. Granted, I would only care when I was hungry and wanted to go random, so more of a yellow pages thing, as you mentioned, but still... I'm reaching.)

Second, I think there's something psychological about this. Kind of like free shipping making people buy things when $0.01 shipping won't. I, for example, am 28, male, a vegetarian, far from affluent, happy with my car insurance and don't have any flavor of the month pharmaceutical needs (and if I did, I'd do something crazy like listen to a doctor). When you don't think about retirement, menstruate, eat meat, invest, want a poorly rated bad faith insurance company, or run around concerned about diseases almost nobody has, you can go entire TV shows with not. one. advertisement. even close to relevant. Even hour long shows. Does it really matter? No, but for some reason it annoys the crap out of me.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961626)

It's hard to draw the line between evil adverts, that try to create a demand for something, and good adverts, that let people who have a demand for something know that there is a supply. In terms of location-aware advertising, I can imagine a few cases where I would like to receive it.

Have you ever been on holiday somewhere, got back, and then read about an exhibition that was very close to where you were staying that you'd have liked to see? It would be nice for a mobile device to pop up a list of interesting local places and events wherever I am. Of course, I'd rather that this was a pull service; press a button and have it find local things, then filter them on the client for things that I might be interested in.

At the other extreme, there is no situation in which I would want to be told the location of the nearest McDonalds.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30963086)

take out the advertising supported parts of the web, and you take out quite a significant chunk - our web experience would be poorer if sites couldn't fund themselves wholly or in part by advertising. So would you prefer to have irrelevant ads served up to you, or ads that may be more releveant (considering that the website that you are using can ask for higher rates because that ad is more relevant?)

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962990)

I agree with parts of your post. My take on internet companies is that propensity towards evil occurs when the founders sell out - ebay being a prime example. (although recently Amazon and its kindle have shown an increasing level of evilness). When it comes to google, they have had ample opportunity many times to be evil, but for the time being I am relaxed because of two points: 1 - Larrey & Sergey are still there, 2 - their business model (serving ads) relies on openess.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

Aashi84 (1733312) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959682)

You gotta admire Google. They are so endlessly, avidly proliferating themselves. If they ever turn evil we could be in a lot of trouble.

it is worth admirable

Re:Amazing Google (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959854)

You gotta admire Google. They are so endlessly, avidly proliferating themselves. If they ever turn evil we could be in a lot of trouble.

If they turn evil? What do you think they're doing with all the search data they're gathering?

Re:Amazing Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962696)

IF, IF? They're not only extremely greedy but they violate their own privacy statements everyday for a profit. No Google is one of the top 10 evil tech companies ever.

Re:Amazing Google (1)

maratumba (1409075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965702)

If they ever turn evil...

Yeah, when it happens, google will inform us on the main page.

Carriers can mess with this? (5, Interesting)

KenMcM (1293074) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959370)

What's stopping carriers from deliberately slowing transmission rates for random customers during random intervals? Just enough such that Google's data is inaccurate.

Re:Carriers can mess with this? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959442)


People need and desire the hard facts, of God, Salvation, and that is Hell is your final destination, if you are not Born-again!

Re:Carriers can mess with this? (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959498)

Obviously you didn't read TFA.

Re:Carriers can mess with this? (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30960156)

Must have spent too much time reading TFB.

Re:Carriers can mess with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30960306)

TFB wouldn't mount. Bad sectors.

Re:Carriers can mess with this? (2, Insightful)

sharkbiter (266775) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959454)

With all due respect, the carriers have enough on their hands currently to not bother with this. Unless the priority of the information becomes tantamount, in which case we would see a scenario like "Gee that's a nice geo loco information gathering program you've got there. A shame something might happen to it".

Re:Carriers can mess with this? (4, Funny)

Moridin42 (219670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959488)

Carriers need to do something deliberate to randomly slow transmission rates for random customers? I would like to know which carrier this is. Are they located in the US?

Re:Carriers can mess with this? (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961342)

can they also at least randomly speed up connections too?

Re:Carriers can mess with this? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959900)

Are you sure they care enough about this??

slashdot needs new google tags... (2, Interesting)

adosch (1397357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959374)

Aside from 'google' 'mobile' 'patents' 'privacy' 'cellphones' and 'story' ... there should *always* be a 'not surprised' and 'obvious'. Google is king of data pillaging and border-line inter-personal information mining. This may fail or it could be highly successful for Google; regardless of the outcome, they've got their hands in just about anything as it pertains to identity on the internet now. This shouldn't be any more surprising; and it sounds pretty cool.

Re:slashdot needs new google tags... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961688)

The surprise is that this is required. Google Maps Mobile sends the cell ID to Google and assumes that most people will look at their current location first when mobile. It then builds a map of locations for cell IDs so the next person to connect from that cell will see the same location everyone else looked at. This means that they can already produce local ads. They do the same data collection based on IP addresses, to find the location of mobile hotspots.

Eh? (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959380)

If the carriers are "jealously guarding" their location data, how come every time I pull up Google Maps on my non-GPS BlackBerry it can figure out where I am to within a block or so? Either this patent is for a technology Google had figured out a long time ago, or else the carriers aren't as worried about having "a lock" on this data as TFA makes it sound.

answered your own question (3, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959436)

Either this patent is for a technology Google had figured out a long time ago

Ding ding ding. Google's been using the technology for a while; they just filed for the application.

You don't have to file for a patent the second you invent something. In fact, you usually want to wait as long as possible before the final steps. You get your foot in the door by filing some paperwork with the patent attorney, notarizing documents showing the invention, etc. etc.

Some cellsites broadcast their location (1)

bernieS (834839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30963562)

I have an older CDMA handset that can be put into test mode by entering **DEBUG and Send, which then displays (among many other things) the nearest cellsite's Latitude and Longitude. It's not the exact handset location, location, but it is useful data. Google's HTC handset is GSM, not CDMA. Do GSM cellsites broadcast their location?

Re:Eh? (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959472)

My Samsung phone can't do it. ATT is blocking it. Google maps can't find my location either with the GPS or with the triangulation cell id location.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959514)

ATT runs one hell of a NAT. NATs tend to fuck up just about anything

Re:Eh? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959672)

For reference, you can get off of their NAT if you call them. I forget exactly how to do it as I haven't done it since I had a WinMo phone and needed the VPN to actually work. The iPhone doesn't seem to use a NAT since I can connect back to it without any problems.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959720)

For what it's worth, my AT&T non-GPS Blackberry can do it. Although it's usually only good to within 2-4km in my experience. I'm not sure if it's using triangulation or just centering on the nearest cell tower, but it's certainly no GPS replacement.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30960866)

I'm behind NAT too (not ATT, different part of the world) and Google Maps work for me even without GPS. I have an android phone though.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959478)

Depends on the carrier. Some are happy to give out the information, but others aren't - that function never worked for me when I was on China Mobile..

Re:Eh? (0, Flamebait)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959602)

Interesting. Well, to you and Profane MuthaFucka, I'm on T-Mobile (USA).

Re:Eh? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959666)

Cause Verizon doesn't mind selling your location to Google, AT&T on the other hand may not. I think they sell it to Google as the iPhones map app seems to always know the tower I'm on, regardless of wifi signal available, even in the middle of west texas with no other buildings in sight (so no wifi).

Re:Eh? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30960308)

I'm guessing you're talking about the 'My Location' app on the BlackBerry, which is an app, not a webpage. It is estimating your location based on the nearest cell tower, not on your IP address. It is a different technology than that mentioned here.

Joke is on Google (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959420)

Numbers can't be patented. And software is just a series of binary numbers. Google is wasting time and money trying to patent software that is inherently unpatentable.

Re:Joke is on Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959432)

O'RLY?

The real reason for Google's DNS change suggestion (4, Interesting)

GrantRobertson (973370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959606)

Now we know the real reason for the suggestion Google has made recently to change the way DNS works to report part of the requesting IP address. They don't give one whit about decreasing unnecessary traffic. They just want to use that for additional location data.

Re:The real reason for Google's DNS change suggest (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959788)

All the better to sell you a soda, pizza, shoes, movie, games ect. as walking down the street.
Also good for the feds to allow 'market forces' to track you.
Opt in for local deals direct to your phone.
No opt out if your of interest for the DHS.

Re:The real reason for Google's DNS change suggest (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959844)

Why would they need DNS modified for that? For users connecting to a Google service, which is what would be needed to measure the kind of stuff this patent talks about, they already have the IP address, because the user, well, connected to them.

Re:The real reason for Google's DNS change suggest (2, Insightful)

GrantRobertson (973370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959882)

Modifying DNS in the way they are requesting could be used - along with the technologies mentioned in this article - to determine or narrow down location information even on connections that aren't going to Google's servers. Thus allowing Google to track location information on everyone in the world all the time. That would be very valuable information to Google even if it were not as accurate as GPS, or as specific as a whole IP address, and even if it were in aggregate form.

The more information they can glom together the better for them and potentially worse for us in the long run. Especially when they redefine "evil" to mean "anything that doesn't help us make money."

Re:The real reason for Google's DNS change suggest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30960872)

If they have the time of the DNS request and then the time of the HTTP request the interval is an extra measurement they can use.

Re:The real reason for Google's DNS change suggest (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 4 years ago | (#30966590)

mod him -5: bullshit.

Google already has the user's IP address.

Re:The real reason for Google's DNS change suggest (1)

GrantRobertson (973370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30968080)

Did you read my other comments in response to this point?

google is evil just like the nazis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959644)

and so are faggots.

don't want thieves in your home? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959738)

don't let niggers into you neighborhood.

it kind of doesent work (1)

]ix[ (32472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30960402)

This is probably why my google calender app on my iphone switches to French when I am using it on my home network. I live in Sweden but somehow my ISP has been designated as French and I get a lot of French ads when browsing from home.

Its weird and somewhat annoying but I am getting a chance to brush up my French.

Re:it kind of doesent work (1)

lintux (125434) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961040)

That has very little to do with this technology and more with a mistake in a IP-to-geolocation database somewhere, most likely.

Blown out of proportion? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961348)

To be fair on Google, this story could actually just be sensationalist crap.

On Android phones for example, applications that use location data can either use GPS if available, or use your rough network location based on the cell tower you're communicating with- but obviously that's very rough.

This patent sounds like they're just trying to improve the usefulness of location data to make location based apps more useful when you don't have a GPS signal, have GPS disabled on low battery, or just don't have GPS in your phone.

This is one of those cases where the sensationalism is likely just paranoid stupidity, because the solution to avoid it would simply be to not use location based apps, or if you do, tick the box that stops the app sending your location data to Google. It just seems to be a better way of doing something that's already done and where the privacy argument has already been had and the safeguards have already been put in place.

Patent problems... (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30964026)

This is another example of why patents are bad.

A a technical person - saying "Hey, if we have some devices communicating wirelessly, and we know about the protocols they are using to communicate, we can deduce a bunch of information about their approximate location just by watching how long it takes them to have certain conversations from different points of view.

Why should that be patentable? It is clever, but it's also somewhat obvious.

skyhook alternative when they did streetview (1)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 4 years ago | (#30965714)

I was wondering why Google didn't scan for wifi access points when they did their streetview; this would have seeded their location database. After that, all the people running google maps on various smartphones with GPS capability would allow them to keep it up to date or cover areas street view mapping didn't cover.

Or maybe they did and sold the data to skyhook instead ;-)

Marketing slogans aren't what corporations do (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 4 years ago | (#30967542)

The fiction that a corporation is a person - combined with the legal precedent that says that the executives can be sued if they do something that reduces profits - makes for some pretty well defined behavior by the corporation. It is solely concerned with maximizing its own revenue and any other concern is incidental or done to "look good". If the corporation were a real person and was evaluated by a psychologist it would be likely be diagnosed as a psychopath (sociopath).

Consider this when you parrot the "Do No Evil" marketing slogan; Google is a corporation and isn't capable of making the distinction between good and evil. At least not by the same standards we common folk do. Don't be surprised when they violate your personal privacy in every possible way so that they can increase their profits - and never forget that for the corporation, the need to increase profits is paramount. Any other consideration takes a distant second place. Even for Google.

One step closer to the Information Society (1)

ALeader71 (687693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30967756)

GPS in our cell phones. Location-aware OSes. Now Google has figured out how to identify where packets came from.

Google turning evil nothing. Imagine what the government could do with this.

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