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Google Wi-Fi audit reveals criminal intent

The audit Google published yesterday of the code used to collect Wi-Fi data as part of the company's global Street View operation shows that the company intended to "identify and store all unencrypted Wi-Fi content", Privacy International said (opens in new tab).

The analysis, posted in a pdf (opens in new tab) shows that Google did, "beyond reasonable doubt, have intent to systematically intercept and record the content of communications" Privacy International asserts.

The report is likely to put the search company at risk of criminal prosecution in almost all the 30 jurisdictions in which the system was used.

The independent audit of the Google system shows that the system used for the Wi-Fi collection intentionally separated out unencrypted content (payload data) of communications and systematically wrote this data to hard drives.

According to PI, this is equivalent to placing a hard tap and a digital recorder onto a phone wire without consent or authorisation.

The report states: "While running in memory, gslite permanently drops the bodies of all data traffic transmitted over encrypted wireless networks. The gslite program does write to a hard drive the bodies of wireless data packets from unencrypted networks."

The report shows that the code was written in such a way that encrypted data was separated out and dumped, while the collected unencrypted data was stored on by Google on hard drives.

Analysis of the code established that Google's claim that it collected the data by "mistake" action is unfounded.

Privacy International said: "It is a criminal act commissioned with intent to breach the privacy of communications."

The communications law of nearly all countries permits the interception and recording of content of communications only if a police or judicial warrant is issued. All other interception is deemed unlawful.

Some jurisdictions provide leeway for "incidental" or "accidental" interception. However where intent to intercept is established, a violation of criminal law is inevitably created.

Last week Google CEO Eric Schmidt admitted that the data Google's Street View Car collected while trundling around the globe would include such personal data as bank account details. The confession essentially means that Google collected all the data it could from unsecured wireless networks and that this data is likely to be personally identifiable,

Schmidt tsrtaed a witch-hunt against the "single engineer" who wrote the code in a nasty attempt to scapegoat teh individual

Yesterday it emerged (opens in new tab)that New Zealand is joining teh growing bunch of countries investigating the way the Internet giant collected personal data through wireless networks. It has handed the matter over to the police. monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.