Google Appeases Privacy Hounds By Detailing OnHub Router Data Collection Routines And Opt-Out Procedures

The Google OnHub wireless router is here and it’s enjoying the spotlight at the moment, thanks to its handsome design and the promise of easy setup for the typical consumer. But as little as the OnHub resembles an ordinary router, it’s exactly that, which means if you use the OnHub, you’re sharing information about your online activities with a device designed by one of the most data-hungry companies in the world. Seems like the OnHub’s privacy policy deserves a look, no?

Google’s online support already has a page devoted to the privacy policy for OnHub and the related Google On app, which is what you’ll use to change settings for the OnHub. To Google’s credit, the policy is remarkably jargon-free and easy to understand. Just as importantly, the policies themselves are encouraging. The overarching rules are Google’s standard privacy policy. But there are additional policies specific to the OnHub.


“Importantly, the Google On app and your OnHub do not track the websites you visit or collect the content of any traffic on your network,” the policy says before digging into the details of how your information is handled.

OnHub makes use of cloud services and some information is stored there, including network settings. Google says the settings are encrypted and that your network password is stored directly on the OnHub, not online. The OnHub scans the area for other routers, however, and information about those devices, including MAC addresses, are stored online. Google says OnHub performs the scans so the router can choose a wireless channel that will experience the least amount of interference from your neighbors’ devices.

The OnHub also sends some basic info to Google, including some anonymous usage data and crash reports. Google also receives information about how hard your OnHub works, including its memory and CPU use. Similar information is sent from the Google On app: crashes and basic usage. The app has a privacy settings section that lets users disable some of the reporting tools.

You can also wipe the OnHub, which is handy if you want to sell the device down the road. The factory reset cleans out any data stored on the hub and removes the OnHub from your Google Account.

It’s hard to give a stamp of approval until we’ve tested the OnHub thoroughly ourselves, but at the moment, it looks like Google is serious about allaying privacy concerns for the OnHub. Google says that it will keep a revision history on the OnHub privacy page so users can see what’s changed over time and understand why Google updated the privacy policy.