Product Reviews

Welcome to Consumer Reports.

We’re so glad to have you as a member. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.

Should I be concerned about privacy with Google's Chromecast?

Published: December 07, 2013 09:00 AM

Find Ratings

Q. You list Google Chromecast as one of the “Best of the Year.” Are you concerned about privacy with a product that requires users to log on to and provide the name and password for their home wireless network? Does this mean that the next time Google’s Street View camera cars drive by that they can legally capture Wi-Fi traffic because the user has voluntarily provided that information?—Joe Story Silver Spring, MD

A. Personal information you give to any service provider is only as secure as that provider’s integrity, plus its willingness and ability to protect your information. Any Wi-Fi-connected device that uses a service provider, such as your smart phone or set-top box, also stores your login information and could even “back it up” to the carrier’s server if allowed. In this particular case, Google’s privacy policy would prohibit its staff from logging directly on to your Wi-Fi network. But Google staffers (and anyone else, for that matter) could “troll” your neighborhood for the names of peoples’ Wi-Fi networks and log their location.

Google says that it doesn’t collect Wi-Fi information with the Street View vehicles. Instead, it says it does it by gathering data in the background from smart-phone users who have Wi-Fi and GPS turned on and have agreed to share received location data with Google. To render your Wi-Fi anonymous to such trolling, you can choose to turn off “SSID broadcast” in your router settings.  

Your Wi-Fi router’s name will then show up as blank in any search, and you’ll have to remember it and give it to any guest (or new device, such as Chromecast) that needs access. If you just want to drop it from Google’s location service, add “_nomap” to the end of the existing name.

Check our guide to online security for more information.

—Consumer Reports

Find Ratings

Streaming Media Ratings

View and compare all Streaming Media ratings.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Electronics News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more