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Google WiFi+VPN Confirmed 320

An anonymous reader writes "Google is actually (confirmed!) rolling out their wifi network, first in the San Francisco bay area (see the FAQ for details.) They are also including a Secure Access program for use in conjunction with this. So far, as per usual, it's in beta, and only for the San Fran bay area. Soon the entire US, perhaps??"
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Google WiFi+VPN Confirmed

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  • The entire US???? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:58AM (#13603592)
    Someone doesn't realize how very large the US is.

    All of the densely and moderately populated areas, but there's no money to be made in doing this in towns (large and small) and rural areas.
  • Just makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peterjhill2002 ( 578023 ) <> on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:00AM (#13603615) Journal
    It could end up being a hugely smart move.... I am sure that 90% of you have already figured out the business model... They will know exactly where you are (or close enough for hand grenades and horse shoes and... ads)...

    Watch out clear channel... Why pay thousands to put your ad on an ugly billboard when you can put your ad less than two feet from a potential customers face... (fake url) customers already use gmail and google at the hotspot, even without having some annoying gonna be hacked forced page to surf for free web machine, they can just set all the google sites that people already visit to places right around the corner...

    If podcasts are going to replace radio, google wifi will replace ?
    (a question for all those who recently took the sat)
  • Money? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jpsowin ( 325530 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:07AM (#13603693) Homepage
    but there's no money to be made in doing this in towns (large and small) and rural areas.

    Do you think there is money to made at all when they are not charging?
  • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:10AM (#13603716) Homepage Journal
    With the exception of the Gmail Notifier, every piece of end-user software that Google's ever released has been for Windows only.

    Some people here believe that Google has a duty to release for other OSes (especially Linux, which is so oft-used there) but that's not where the end users are. Perhaps when the software comes out of beta it'll be ported.
  • Not the RIAA... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flimnap ( 751001 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:10AM (#13603719) Homepage
    Well, Google probably won't turn over data to the RIAA, but this looks like another "Do your web browsing through a Google proxy! It's free! Don't bother reading our vague privacy policy!" Between this -- which they seem to be also encouraging the use of with non-Google wifi networks -- and Google Accelerator, it seems that a large number of people could be used by Google in a study of web-browsing habits.
  • Why would I cheer. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:12AM (#13603732)
    Google is rapidly expanding to the point where they seem poised to be the Ma Bell, AT&T, Microsoft, or Verizon of the online world. No criticism of their work and all but I like a little competition in my world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:18AM (#13603777)
    And from their FAQ:
    When I install Google Secure Access, why does it ask if I also want to install the Google Toolbar?<br>
    We've included the option to install the Google Toolbar because it improves your browsing experience.<br>
    Right now it's optional, but will Google one day go the way of the bundling (...) ?
  • by ravind ( 701403 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:21AM (#13603797)
    You took the words right out of my mouth. This is apparently something they've been working on for some time. First the Google Accelerator and now this. Coincidentally both of these products send all your traffic through their servers.

    Do no evil? Commendable philosophy, but do I want to be put in a position where I only have your word to rely on to ensure that you do no evil to me?
  • Re:Money? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interiot ( 50685 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:27AM (#13603841) Homepage
    Do you think a publicly-trade company is doing something that will lose money over the long term?

    Just because they aren't charging money directly doesn't mean they don't still need to earn money per eyeball. Whatever method they have to make money, it's still going to be dependent on the population density and economic prosperity of the area.

    (they're not going to stick hotspots under the ocean, or in space, for instance)

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:28AM (#13603851) Homepage
    > Do no evil? Commendable philosophy, but do I want
    > to be put in a position where I only have your
    > word to rely on to ensure that you do no evil to
    > me?

    You are in that position every time you turn your back toward anyone.
  • Re:Money? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neoform ( 551705 ) <> on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:31AM (#13603865) Homepage
    considering their Privacy Policy states that they'll keep records of what sites you visit along with some other info, yes, yes i do think there is money to be made off this.
  • by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:38AM (#13603925) Homepage Journal
    One window for all your needs. You need an ISP, email service, search, shopping... use Google.

    I see this distinct trend ever since their IPO. They are trying to build a network of their own. It's almost frightening how blind most of my friends are towards this. For example, by using Jabber google becomes the community pet, but they keep a closed community by preventing S2S communication. AOL was massively successful this way building their network on top of telephone lines. Google is doing it on top of the current internet -- google web accelerator and things like this. It is like DRM, sooner or later everyone else will be using it and you'll have a tough choice to make.

    Yahoo ! is no better, but at least people don't blindly trust Y! to do the right thing. I think I still have a couple of mags from 1992 when Bill Gates was the man who could do nothing wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:43AM (#13603984)
    All of Google's new initiatives are aimed at collecting your true identity. Google wants to link your googling activities with your real-world identity.

    Did you notice you can sign up for your own gmail invite IF you give them your cell phone number?

    And you can get free WiFi IF you register and install their software on your PC?

  • Re:Money? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brushfireb ( 635997 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:48AM (#13604036)
    Dont kid yourself. Public companies are perhaps the BEST at doing something that will lose the money over the short or long term.

    The companies that are best at making money are mid size companies. Hence why they grow into large companies, original management moves out or retires, and corporate stooges step in -- who have no real money invested.

    Thats the real problem with big big big public companies -- all the people invested arent anywhere near or have any idea what goes on in said company.

    It wouldnt suprise me at all if Google starts feeling the pain on some of these fancy "innovations" they seem to be on about. Right now they are able to fund such nonsense with a immensly hyped stock price and wonderful public relations.
  • Re:Money? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Irish_Samurai ( 224931 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:51AM (#13604073)
    I'm no networking, web server superstar, but isn't it possible for Google to take this information and create advertising vehicles targeted not only at local demographics, but on time based demographic information as well?

    The little factoid "80% of web users in Seattle view news websites between the hours of 8 - 10. Of these people 30% goto site A, 40% goto site B, 15% goto site C" would be pretty handy for marketers.

    Not only that, but it opens up AdWords and AdSense to having a new layer for bidding - timeframe. AdWords can already be targeted to geographic locations, add the time factor in and you have created a reason for people to start bidding even more money for advertising. It would be extremely costly to "own" a keyword for all timeframes, but a cost some business would be more than willing to pay.

    I'm also not too sure on this point, but can't google sell this traffic information to large marketing firms also? If you strip out all identifiers, you have kept up your side of the privacy agreement, correct?
  • by friedmud ( 512466 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @11:00AM (#13604163)
    I'm not really Sure what the big deal is... anytime you connect through an ISP they can watch what you do. As far as I'm concerned I trust Google quite a bit more than the un-encrypted coffee slop down the street... but hey... to each his own.

  • ARE YOU SURE??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ferrellcat ( 691126 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @11:00AM (#13604171)
    The language is Google's website is vague at best.

    From their privacy policy... []

    The Google Privacy Policy describes how we treat personal information when you use Google's services, including information provided when you use the Google WiFi or Google Secure Access client. In addition, the following describes our practices that are specific to the Google Secure Access client:
    Notice how they differentiate "Google WiFi" and "Google Secure Access client." Of course, there is no other mention of Google WiFi on the website yet. Technically, this language could be taken to mean that these are two seperate entities, or just one entity.
  • Re:Money? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chazmyrr ( 145612 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @11:03AM (#13604200)
    No. The real problem with big big big public companies is that senior executives give themselves huge stock options, sacrifice long term profitability for short term gain, exercise their options, diversify their portfolio, and take a position elsewhere before they have to answer for their actions.
  • Re:Money? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shaper_pmp ( 825142 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @11:06AM (#13604227)
    Since it sounds like the data is only encrypted between your client and their proxy server, I'd say they'll be making a lot of money from traffic analysis and user-behaviour tracking.

    Knowing Google they'll be able to (=they probably will) track every URL every person enters, and tie this to your Google cookie/GMail account, etc.

    I'm hardly one of the tinfoil-hat brigade, but this is basically the Google Dialup util idea repackaged for broadband:

    Google Dialup: "Slight speed increase in exchange for us looking over your shoulder the whole time you're on-line, tracking your behaviour and spotting patterns."

    Google WiFi Access: "Slight security increase in exchange for us looking over your shoulder the whole time you're on-line, tracking your behaviour and spotting patterns."

    I'm no trendy Google-basher, but it's really starting to rankle how every major initiative from Google seems to have these little hooks attached - even Google Talk (while based on Jabber) apparently doesn't support the server-to-server protocol, so you need to specifically have a GMail account and connect to Google's servers to talk to anyone using it. IE, all your chatting is forced to go through their servers... wonder why?

    And now this - they're supplying free VPN for an entire city (to begin with), spending (conservatively) thousands or millions on hardware, and we're supposed to believe they're getting nothing in return?

    Bullshit - if they aren't invading privacy and tracking user-behaviour I'll eat my hat. And if you don't think they are, then what are they getting out of it?
  • by CommieLib ( 468883 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @11:27AM (#13604492) Homepage
    Amen! What bugs me about commercials is not that I'm being pitched to, but that it's a waste of both of our time! There's no point in showing me an ad for Massengil.

    Show me an ad for Arturo Fuente, a book by Berkely linguistics professor John McWhorter, or a program about the 80's British comedy Yes, Prime Minister, and I'm very likely to bite. At the very least, I will be actively interested in the ad. This level of granularity should make it possible.

    I'm a YIMBY for this (Yes, In My BackYard). I have no problem, repeat, no problem having ads targeted to my interests given that I will be presented with ads regardless.

    The flipside of this is privacy, I suppose. That may be the relevancy-killer.
  • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @11:33AM (#13604571) Homepage
    It is called lock in and choice.

    If I want to use AOL I have no choice but to use their proprietary PPP software. Google's ISP is standards-based VPN, I can use any number of software packages to connect to it.

    If I want to use the MSN Messenger network I have (at least from MS's point of view) no choice but to use MSN messenger. Google's IM network is standards based Jabber, I can use any client and they even promote this.

    If I want to use MSN TV I have to use Windows Media Player. Google Video uses standard open codecs and I can even download the source code for it.

    AOL and MS want to try to lock you in to use only their services. Google wants to *convince* you to use their services by making them the best. This is a huge difference.

  • Re:Doesn't work (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @11:35AM (#13604594)
    As an added note, Google gets to see even more user traffic and data since it all routes through their servers. This is a brilliant tool for them to mine user usage and behavior patterns and to build data profiles on individuals. Its a wonderful idea. Imaging combining this information with name, SSN, phone number, what car you drive, you pets name (seriously), etc: a marketers/telemarkets/spammers dream. This is the answer to the rejection of the advertiser's cookies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @11:49AM (#13604760)
    If I see an ad for a product I would've bought anyway, then it hasn't given me any new information, has it? It's just wasted my time, just like if I saw an ad for a product I would never buy.

    If, on the other hand, I see an ad that convinces me to buy a product that I wouldn't have bought otherwise, then the ad has interfered with my goal of depositing large amounts of money in my savings account.

    Altogether, I can't think of any reason why it's in my interest to see any ad, ever. If I want something, I can google for it.

  • by wcdw ( 179126 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:07PM (#13605668) Homepage
    Define "useful". Frankly, if I'm looking for a product, I'll go look for it. In the meantime, I do not want YAA (yet another ad) shoved under my face.

    There is no content of which I can conceive that I personally would find useful. For many years I found everything I needed in the yellow pages, without ever once opening any junk mail.

    How is that different now that it's in my face, not even hidden discreetly in an envelope I can discard unopened?

    Ads - targeted or otherwise - are a waste of bandwidth, at best. Thank GOD for AdBlocker! (Not too mention the S/WAN communities, who have been responsible for securing my wireless connections for some years - without tracking my behaviour.)
  • Re:PPTP VPN (Score:3, Insightful)

    by austad ( 22163 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @01:53PM (#13606204) Homepage
    It's possible mine didn't work because the firewall where I'm at might be blocking GRE. I do have a 1-1 NAT address going out, not PAT, so that shouldn't be an issue. But I suspect their rules are permit only tcp and udp.

    Why did Google choose to use PPTP? If someone is at a coffee shop behind a little netgear firewall/ap, the PPTP passthrough usually only works for ONE person, because it can't really do GRE connection tracking since there are no port numbers associated with GRE. It would be much better if they were wrapping this data inside of TCP or UDP to ensure that NAT and/or firewall issues don't prevent the traffic from passing.
  • Re:Money? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @02:05PM (#13606309)
    But wait, any ISP you're using now can already track your every move online right now. I don't believe there's any law to stop them. The only difference is, you're paying them $60/mo to do it.
  • by biglig2 ( 89374 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @02:49AM (#13611602) Homepage Journal
    Well, it's not confirmed but many people suspect it is option three.

    Which is, that they are called Google WiFi spots because Google owns them. We see from various job adverts etc. that Google have been cheaply buying enormous amounts of dark fibre to build a fast global backbone network. Take this, add WiFi or WiMax for the last mile, bing! Instant huge ISP. Make it Ad supported and free, bing! Every internet packet in the world goes thru Google. Google owns the internet, ..., profit!
  • Re:Money? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shaper_pmp ( 825142 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:19AM (#13611919)
    Granted, but my ISP hasn't made it its public stated intention to categorise and present all the data in the world.

    I used to believe that Google had the right idea (after all, more information is almost always good), but they seem to be blind or dismissive of perfectly valid privacy concerns.

    They started off listening to their users (which is why, even now, isn't a nasty Yahoo-style portal), but somewhere along the way they've come in grave danger of ignoring their users' privacy concerns, and igniting a backlash.

    This level of "shut up, we know what's best" arrogance is also reminding me increasingly of Microsoft - they also started off listening to users, but at some point they decided They Knew Best, and stopped. Witness the Bill Gates quote about there being nothing they won't say or do to get people to do things their way (because "their way" and "the best way" are synonymous).

    Like it or not, Google are now very powerful, and have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies. People don't mind a webmail company hypothetically being able to read your mail. They (perhaps) don't mind a search engine linking every search you do to your cookie. They don't mind their ISP being able (in theory) to track their browsing habits.

    However, when one company can do all of this, can tie it back to you, personally, refuses to respect users' privacy and has publically shown it likes to gather every scrap of information it can and use it for advertising purposes... well, suddenly a lot of people have a problem.

    Don't get me wrong - I firmly believe Google have honourable intentions, and I'm not expecting to get junk-mail through my letterbox because I used GMail and happened to log onto a Google Access hotspot in the same week. However, despite their noble intentions they display incredibly (and unnecessarily) invasive behaviour, and seem to have no respect at all for user concerns or privacy. At the very least, they can't even be bothered to address these concerns and demonstrate they aren't stepping out of line.

    While I still think they're trying to hold fast to "Don't Be Evil", arrogantly thinking you know better than the very legitimate concerns of your users is the first step on the way.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!