Aussies say Google Wi-fi snooping broke law

Australian Privacy Commissioner, Karen Curtis, said Google broke the law with its misguided Street View Wi-Fi snooping shenanigans.

Having investigated the matter Curtis said; "On the information available I am satisfied that any collection of personal information would have breached the Australian Privacy Act."

She added: "Collecting personal information in these circumstances is a very serious matter. Australians should reasonably expect that private communications remain private."

Bizarrely, although she thinks Google broke the law, she also said the law it broke doesn't allow her to enforce any sanctions on the company. Rather, the company made a bunch of promises and issued an apology to the country.

The outfit repeated its claim that it collected payload data "by accident"

"To be clear, we did not want and have never used any payload data in our products or services--and as soon as we discovered our error, we announced that we would stop collecting all Wi-Fi data via our Street View vehicles and removed all Wi-Fi reception equipment from them."

It added: "We want to reiterate to Australians that this was a mistake for which we are sincerely sorry. Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do and we have to earn that trust every single day. We are acutely aware that we failed badly here."

The company promised to have a sniff through the data and tell the Commissioner what it finds. And it promises not to be a naughty outfit again for three years

Google could still face charges down under as the Aussie plod are still making their minds up as to whether Google infringed Telecommunications Interception Act.

"Under the current Privacy Act, I am unable to impose a sanction on an organisation when I have initiated the investigation. My role is to work with the organisation to ensure ongoing compliance and best privacy practice," Curtis said.

But she added: "Other privacy authorities and law enforcement agencies may still be investigating the collection of WiFi 'payload' data by Google. In view of those ongoing investigations I do not propose to comment in more detail.