This San Francisco Chronicle article notes that the Google municipal wi-fi service will require users to create a Google account and log on to access the free service. While (savvy) users can create anonymous accounts, requiring a login makes it easier to track Internet use and locational data to specific individuals.
The article also notes that Google will retain the location-specific data of each user for up to 180 days before deleting it, as part of an effort to “maintain the Google Wi-Fi network and deliver the best possible service” (one of those nebulous phrases). Retaining user’s location-specific data for 6 months makes the concerns about the ability to track and surveil people’s activities that much more real.
[via Dan Gillmor]
UPDATE: Karl-Friedrich Lenz points out that retaining this data for 180 days would be illegal under Article 9 of the 2002 data protection Directive if someone tried to do it in Europe.And Danny Sullivan correctly mentions that any ISP or commerical wi-fi provider has the ability to track your activity and where you connect to the network. (Of course, Google has a much wider array of user data at their disposal than most ISPs)