Google has mapped every wireless network in Britain in order to use the information for commercial purposes, it has emerged.
Google has now suspended the use of Streetview cars across the world but their work in Britain is already complete. The information was collected by radio aerials on their Street View cars, which have now photographed almost every home in the country.
The data is then used on Google’s Maps for Mobile application to locate mobile phones such as iPhones in order for users to access information relevant to the area such as restaurants, cinemas, theatres, shops and hotels.
The project had remained secret until an inquiry in Germany earlier this month in which Google was forced to admit that it “mistakenly” downloaded data packets, which may have included fragments of emails and other data, from unsecured wireless networks where they were not protected by a password.
Google points out that other companies have already mapped wireless networks, notably a company called Skyhook Wireless which has a contract with Apple, manufacturers of the iPhone.