Did you know your browser tells websites exactly where you are ?

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Offline RD

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See how accurate it is in your case ... http://benwerd.com/lab/geo.php


[If you are wondering how it knows, it Googles your IP and nearby wireless access points]
« Last Edit: 17/10/2011 07:04:31 by RD »

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Offline CliffordK

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Interesting.
I tried the test.
My browser asked if I wanted to share the location (a question I've never seen before).  I believe the site above indicated my location was about 10 miles away.

I've seen website SPAM advertizing of personal sites that seem to want to hook me up with someone 200 miles away.

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Offline Geezer

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Nope, it said

"Your browser does not support geolocation"

and I'm using Internet Explorer  [:D]
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Offline MikeS

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I tried the test and got this
This page could not get your location.
I am using google chrome and zone alarm firewall.

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Offline RD

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Using Firefox (5.0.1) it got my location to within a few meters, as advertised ...

Quote
How accurate are the locations?

Accuracy varies greatly from location to location. In some places, our service providers may be able to provide a location to within a few meters.
http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/geolocation/

« Last Edit: 17/10/2011 08:51:28 by RD »

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Offline syhprum

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I too use IE9 and it says no go
syhprum

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Offline RD

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Allegedly not just a FireFox thing ...

[attachment=15420]
http://www.browsergeolocation.com/#browser-gelocation-support

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Offline neilep

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I tried it with Chrome, Firefox and IE and it places me in Kensington...which is a lot nicer than Barnet....so....I guess I've moved without knowing it !....which is nice !
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Offline RD

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I tried it again after reconnecting to the internet and I too have moved upmarket (about 30 miles away). The first few times I tried it it got me spot on.
[ I didn't know Firefox was noting the various wifi networks near me and grassing me up to Google].

Quote
Firefox gathers information about nearby wireless access points and your computer’s IP address. Then Firefox sends this information to the default geolocation service provider, Google Location Services, to get an estimate of your location.
http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/geolocation/
« Last Edit: 17/10/2011 09:46:52 by RD »

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Offline imatfaal

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My firefox 7.0.1 (on fedora 15) puts my in a crummy part of the city rather than in the posh west end - but I am glad to say that I had to "allow" it to use my location which I presume would stop anyone using it without permission. 

When I search on google - it always has to the left hand side of the screen my location as Camberwell - which is quite the wrong side of the river altogether!
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

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Offline syhprum

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IE9 has decided to try and locate me but it is about two miles out, not even on a road !
syhprum

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Offline The Penguin

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Unless you're like me an you use a VPN. I'm in the US, but my IP suggests that I'm in Hong Kong :)

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Offline Geezer

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I tried it with Chrome, Firefox and IE and it places me in Kensington...which is a lot nicer than Barnet....so....I guess I've moved without knowing it !....which is nice !
'
Are you an MP? Your IP address says you are in the House of Parliament.
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Offline Geezer

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Unless you're like me an you use a VPN. I'm in the US, but my IP suggests that I'm in Hong Kong :)

Not at the moment [:D]. You seem to be in a certain very large state in the US.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline RD

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I had to "allow" it to use my location which I presume would stop anyone using it without permission.

I wouldn't bet on it, (particularly if I were living under an oppressive regime). 

Unless you're like me an you use a VPN. I'm in the US, but my IP suggests that I'm in Hong Kong :)

If the browser is reporting Wi-Fi access points local to you (which Google has a map of) then even using a proxy would not hide your location.
« Last Edit: 17/10/2011 22:16:59 by RD »

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Offline Geezer

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If the browser is reporting Wi-Fi access points local to you

Should be pretty safe here (I hope)! I can only see mine, and a couple of the neighbors.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline RD

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If the browser is reporting Wi-Fi access points local to you

Should be pretty safe here (I hope)! I can only see mine, and a couple of the neighbors.

It would be possible to change the SSID and MAC of your wifi , but those of your neighbour's wifi would give you away.

« Last Edit: 17/10/2011 22:32:19 by RD »

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Offline Geezer

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If the browser is reporting Wi-Fi access points local to you

Should be pretty safe here (I hope)! I can only see mine, and a couple of the neighbors.

It would be possible to change the SSID and MAC of your wifi , but those of your neighbour's wifi would give you away.



That's not fair!
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Offline RD

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Google guesses my house number is in the range " 2 - 24 " ...

[attachment=15430]

Zooming in on the Google map provided it's exactly on chez RD (house #10).

Allegedly geolocation can be switched off in FireFox config settings ...

[attachment=15428]


« Last Edit: 18/10/2011 06:30:59 by RD »

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Offline Geezer

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Of course, this only works if you've already hoovered up the approximate locations of a bunch of wireless routers, which is precisely what Google did in the UK!

I sort of hope they tried it in the US too, because, if they did, they are likely to be on the wrong end of a class-action lawsuit with nearly everyone in the US! That could quite easily put them out of business. The law might be a bit vague on the subject, but you better believe there are enough lawyers in the US who would find a lot of persuasive arguments to prove that they intruded on privacy, and that's a really big no-no.

I wish we had a tape of the meeting at Google when the legal department finally figured out what the technos were up to! I would speculate it went something like this:

T: "See, it's really cool! We can figure out where anyone actually is just by sucking in all the beacons from the wireless routers. The commercial possibilities are endless."

L: "Yes, I see your point. That would be really powerful data. But we need to tread carefully here. There are a lot of implications regarding privacy."

T: "It's no big deal. Nobody has objected so far."

L: "What exactly do you mean when you say "so far"? Do you mean you've already done this?"

T: "Hell yes! We've been doing it for ages. We've just finished doing the entire UK."

L: "You stupi

(As this is a family oriented website, we had to stop speculating at this point because of the violence that ensued.)

 
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline neilep

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I tried it with Chrome, Firefox and IE and it places me in Kensington...which is a lot nicer than Barnet....so....I guess I've moved without knowing it !....which is nice !
'
Are you an MP? Your IP address says you are in the House of Parliament.

Uh oh !..I've been rumbled !!...now ewe can understand why the country is in the state it is ! :-)
Men are the same as women, just inside out !

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Offline damocles

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OK -- Safari 5.0.6 here. The web page went thru all the preliminaries and warnings but eventually it came up with

I tried the test and got this
This page could not get your location.
...(snip)

I wonder if it is relevant that I am connected by ADSL to an exchange some distance from home, and have deliberately deactivated airport, bluetooth, and all other wireless features?
1 4 6 4 1
4 4 9 4 4     
a perfect perfect square square
6 9 6 9 6
4 4 9 4 4
1 4 6 4 1

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Offline Geezer

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I wonder if it is relevant that I am connected by ADSL to an exchange some distance from home, and have deliberately deactivated airport, bluetooth, and all other wireless features?


If you are using a computer that has no wireless connection, you are immune. This pernicious browser code obtains the beacons of wireless routers from the wireless network detection system on your machine, and uses that information to try to correlate your position using information obtained (legally?), from the geographic locations of those beacons.

What remains to be seen is whether it is legal to correlate those beacons with an approximate geographic location. That connection could only be made by some sort of "snooping". Personally, I think it's outrageous, and I'd like to see the perpetrators doing some serious jail time.

Their argument is that the information was broadcast, so it is in the public domain.

My argument is that my fingerprints are all over my trash, but that doesn't give anyone the right to exploit that information for financial gain. Also, it's possible to detect what TV stations I am watching, or even what keystrokes I am typing in the message I am sending here from the RF signals from my house, but that does not make it legal to intercept that information, and it certainly does not make it legal to use that information for financial gain. (It used to be called "spying".)

It's a gross invasion of privacy however you look at it, and it should be illegal.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline MikeS

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Quote MikeS
"I tried the test and got this
This page could not get your location.
I am using google chrome and zone alarm firewall."

I live in Bulgaria and my service is wireless provided by M-Tel.  It's a fixed location.  I wonder why it does not find me, not as I am complaining you understand.  There is an old adage here, 'assume nothing, this is Bulgaria".

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Offline Airthumbs

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Wow, well according to mine I live in the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg.  This would be the equivalent of the Houses of Parliament in the UK!  This location is at least 100km from my actual location, whats the deal?

Latitude: 49.611621
Longitude: 6.131935
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (Einstein)

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Offline Geezer

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Wow, well according to mine I live in the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg.  This would be the equivalent of the Houses of Parliament in the UK!  This location is at least 100km from my actual location, whats the deal?

Latitude: 49.611621
Longitude: 6.131935

If I understand what's going on correctly, one possible reason is that a wireless router that used to be in your vicinity has been relocated to Luxembourg, but I think it's more likely that it does not know the location of any wireless routers in your vicinity, so it's using your ISP's lat/long address (Entreprise DES Postes ET Telecommunications, Luxembourg) based on your IP address only.

(Either that or it decided Luxembourg is so small that everyone must be living in the same building.)
« Last Edit: 24/10/2011 06:46:03 by Geezer »
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Offline damocles

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 Hmm! ...
It seems obvious to me that some Internet agitators have decided to relocate everyone into sundry European parliamentary buildings to confront the MPs and get them to take serious action about the privacy issue! [;D]

(apropos of

Wow, well according to mine I live in the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg.  This would be the equivalent of the Houses of Parliament in the UK!  This location is at least 100km from my actual location, whats the deal?

Latitude: 49.611621
Longitude: 6.131935

I tried it with Chrome, Firefox and IE and it places me in Kensington...which is a lot nicer than Barnet....so....I guess I've moved without knowing it !....which is nice !
'
Are you an MP? Your IP address says you are in the House of Parliament.
1 4 6 4 1
4 4 9 4 4     
a perfect perfect square square
6 9 6 9 6
4 4 9 4 4
1 4 6 4 1

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Offline Geezer

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On reflection, or possibly on a couple of beers, one solution to this dastardly intrusion into privacy would be to start a "router swapping club". If all the routers continuously moved around, the router hoovering service could never be able to keep up with the changes, and there would be so much uncertainty in the data that the locator would be useless.

AND before you all say it must have been more than a couple of beers, I did run a project that did something very similar to determine the root cause of power outages. Unfortunately, the data was so unreliable that no amount of artificial intelligence was able to make a decent determination, and it wasn't for the want of trying either, trust me  [:D]
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline RD

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... If all the routers continuously moved around, the router hoovering service could never be able to keep up with the changes, and there would be so much uncertainty in the data that the locator would be useless.

Sounds like a "mix network" * ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mix_network , like TOR.

[* nothing to do with the oirish diaspora  [:)] ]
« Last Edit: 24/10/2011 10:12:48 by RD »

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Offline Geezer

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... If all the routers continuously moved around, the router hoovering service could never be able to keep up with the changes, and there would be so much uncertainty in the data that the locator would be useless.

Sounds like a "mix network" * ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mix_network , like TOR.

[* nothing to do with the oirish diaspora  [:)] ]


Looks like they have it pretty much down pat.
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Offline RD

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This post is via TOR, it's very slow because of the multiple layers,
[tip: when using TOR switch off images as images use a lot of bandwidth] 


https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/image-block/

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Offline techmind

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Well, I was just idly checking what my local broadband options were, and after I'd entered my postcode, the comparison site declared that according to Google I was 3000-odd miles from my telephone exchange. It'd placed me somewhere near Ethiopia!  :-p 
"It has been said that the primary function of schools is to impart enough facts to make children stop asking questions. Some, with whom the schools do not succeed, become scientists." - Schmidt-Nielsen "Memoirs of a curious scientist"

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Offline Nizzle

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Hehe,

I'm near Brussels Belgium, but that OP website says I'm in Cambridge UK.
Probably because our company's servers are located there...
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