Google to offer tracking opt-out to Wi-Fi owners

September 13, 2011 - 3:35 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is making a concession that will allow the owners of residential wireless networks to prevent their systems from being listed in a database that helps the company track people on cell phones.

The change announced Tuesday responds to concerns raised in Europe. Regulators there have periodically looked into whether Google's mapping services violate Europe's privacy laws.

To avoid trouble, Google will permit owners of wireless networks to opt out of the company's tracking technology. The option will be available worldwide in the autumn.

Google relies on the signals from wireless, or Wi-Fi, networks scattered around neighborhoods to get a better handle on locations of someone on a cell phone using Google's Android software or other services. The company says the Wi-Fi networks don't reveal people's identities.