Australia orders privacy probe into Google Street View

Mike Halsey MVP
Jun 6, 2010
Updated • Mar 18, 2015

Australia's Attorney General has instructed the country's police to investigate search giant Google for possible breaches of privacy while taking photos for it's Street View service.

The investigation, reported by the BBC, has come about following complaints  that Google gathered some personal data from unencrypted WiFi networks.

Australian law prohibits people accessing electronic communications for purposes that are not authorised and Attorney General Robert McClelland said there had been "numerous complaints from the public" and added that the police should "investigate possible criminal breaches of the telecommunications privacy laws".

It's not the first time Google has come under fire for allegedly gathering data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks, with several countries having expressed concern over Google's actions, and several more questioning whether the Street View service, in which every street in the world is photographed, is legal and above board.

Google had, according to the Australian government committed "probably the single biggest breach in the history of privacy".  Though this might be overstating the case a bit, given that there are a great many privacy breaches that take place around the world that the public never get to find out about.

Google has admitted that it "mistakenly collected the data" and has apologised.  Google has implied however that the Australian government is seeking a vendetta as the search giant has been very vocal in it's criticisms of the Internet censorship laws the country has introduced, laws which have also been criticised much further afield.

We'll report back and let you know what the result of the Australian police's investigation is, and if there is lokely to be a prosecution of the company under Australian law.


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  1. Joey said on June 9, 2010 at 6:02 am

    The solution could never be a government mandate. People will always take from others to help themselves. The problem with data theft is you don’t even know it has been taken, indeed, it could be taken accidentally.

    The solution must be in users protecting themselves. Encrypt messages (GPG, PGP, TrulyMail, etc.), encrypt hard drive contents (TrueCrypt, BestCrypt, etc.) be careful what you put online. We must be responsible.

  2. Transcontinental said on June 6, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    I never would have thought the word bumpkin could apply to an administration :)

  3. Dave said on June 6, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Certainly looks like the Ozzies are losing the plot, big-time. Won’t give their daft internet filtering scheme one iota of credibility if they divert attention by going after Google as an alleged vendetta.

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