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Android Wifi backup option

If you let Google back up your Wifi passwords, then Google has your Wifi passwords

The Internet has worked itself up into a bit of a tizzy over the weekend about an innocuous system-level feature that’s been around since Android 2.2 Froyo. The “Back up my data” option —  found under “Settings>Backup & reset” on most Android phones — allows certain stuff, including Wifi passwords, to be backed up to the cloud. The current setting label reads:
“Back up application data, Wi-Fi passwords and other settings to Google servers.”
And that’s exactly what it does. Uncheck the box and you’re informed that Google’s copy of the data will be purged from its servers, as it should be.
The checkbox is presented to users during the setup process, and the label is very clear about what will happen if you leave it enabled. The reason for the feature’s presence is also plain to see — it’s supposed to make the process of setting up new devices a little quicker by pulling down your personal settings and network details from the cloud. Yes, including your Wifi password.
If you’re not comfortable with Google keeping a copy of your stuff, simply uncheck the box. Same deal if you change your mind after the fact — uncheck the box, and Google’s copy of your Wifi passwords goes up in smoke. It’s been that way since the feature was first introduced some three years ago.
But in light of the recent controversy over government surveillance, the story seems to have taken on a new angle, with articles appearing suggesting Google is creating a vast database of all the world’s Wifi passwords in one convenient, NSA-accessible place.


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