[LINK] Google's WiFi bungle

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Wed May 19 14:42:35 AEST 2010


The Australian Privacy Commission has launched an investigation into 
Google’s collection of Wi-Fi ..

Karen Curtis, Australian privacy commissioner, said she had met Google 
representatives on Monday, and the company had responded to a series of 

"At this point in our investigation, it appears that the extent of 
personal information collected by Google in Australia, if any, is very 
limited. Nevertheless we regard such collection as a likely breach of the 
Privacy Act. 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."

She said she was evaluating Google's response and "considering next 
appropriate steps".

"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," said a Google Australia 
spokesperson on Tuesday.

A number of privacy commissioners around the world recently wrote to 
Google to highlight a range of privacy concerns including the collection 
of Street View data..

Peter Schaar, Germany's commissioner for data protection, is calling for 
a "detailed probe" by independent authorities over the data collection, 
describing the Google's explanation as "highly unusual", according to the 
Financial Times.

"One of the largest companies in the world, the market leader on the 
internet, simply disobeyed normal rules in the development and usage of 
software," he said.

The Federal Trade Commission in the US is also expected to launch an 
inquiry, the newspaper reported.

Just days before Google's revelations, concerns over the data collection 
of Wi-Fi data were highlighted in a story on this website, which reported 
the growing concerns expressed by two Australian privacy groups, 
Electronic Frontiers Australia and the Australian Privacy Foundation. 

At the time, the Australian Privacy Commission said its preliminary 
inquiries had indicated that the information about Wi-Fi data that Google 
was collecting "would not be considered personal information under the 
Privacy Act".

Geordie Guy, vice-chairman of EFA, said the Australian Privacy Commission 
could have acted earlier. 

"There needs to be an improved relationship between the Privacy 
Commissioner and organisations in Australia who take an interest in 
privacy. There are organisations that take this stuff pretty seriously," 
he said. 

"We really do feel it's up to the Australian Privacy Commissioner to move 
on this issue now, not Google," he said.


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