Privacy Act 'likely' breached by Google

Privacy Act 'likely' breached by Google

Summary: Google's collection of Wi-Fi data in Australia was a "likely breach" of the Privacy Act, according to Australian Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis.

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Google's collection of Wi-Fi data in Australia was a "likely breach" of the Privacy Act, according to Australian Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner met with Google Representatives yesterday to answer a number of questions in relation to the revelation from Google over the weekend that its Street View cars had collected data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks for the past four years.

"Following Google's announcement on 15 May that 'payload' data had been collected from unsecured Wi-Fi networks, my office has opened an 'own motion' investigation," Curtis told ZDNet Australia in a statement.

Curtis said that the office was evaluating the responses Google gave and the that office is currently considering the next appropriate course of action. She said that the personal information collected by the Google Street View cars appeared to be limited, but that the act itself was cause for concern.

"We regard such collection as a likely breach of the Privacy Act," she said. "My office will be discussing this matter further with Google, including action to be taken by Google in respect of any information it has collected."

"As we stated in our blog post the other day, we plan to work with the authorities in the relevant countries to answer their questions and delete the data as quickly as possible," Google said in a statement on the issue.

Electronic Frontiers Australia vice-chair Geordie Guy told ZDNet Australia yesterday that the organisation would like to see all the data collected destroyed under the eye of the office.

Topics: Google, Networking, Privacy, Security, Wi-Fi

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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2 comments
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  • Your kidding me open WIFI and you have an expectation of privacy I think not. Is the Govt. after Google because they are against KRudd's great wall of OZ ??? Oh well at least it might boost awareness though I doubt the people with open WIFI for non nefarious reasons will even notice / care.
    anonymous coward-6d5b5
  • The funny thing they keep forgetting to mention in all these articles, the bit of code that did it was borrowed from an open source project. The code was set up in error, not intentionally.

    Also... they were connected to any one network for less that 1/5th of a second. Long enough to detect the SSID and MAC address. Which I might add is not illegal, and not collecting data. Its public information.
    soap.au