Google breached the Privacy Act with its Street View Wi-Fi gaffe, according to the Australian Privacy Commission (APC).
The Commission has been investigating the Internet giant’s collection of personal data through unsecured Wi-Fi networks during the Australian leg of its Street View vehicle blitz.
Vehicles we’re only supposed to travel down streets to capture snaps for the Google Map service. However, it was revealed Street View vehicles collected private data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks in the process.
“On the information available, I am satisfied that any collection of personal information would have breached the Australian Privacy Act,” Australian Privacy Commissioner, Karen Curtis, said in a statement. “Collecting personal information in these circumstances is a very serious matter.
“Australians should reasonably expect that private communication remains private.”
Google has volunteered in written undertakings that it will publish an apology to Australians on its local website, conduct a privacy impact assessment (PIA) on any Street View data collection activities in Australia that include personal information, and regularly consult with the Australian Privacy Commissioner regarding privacy matters.
Curtis is unable to impose a sanction on Google since she initiated the investigation.
“My role is to work with the organisation to ensure ongoing compliance and best privacy practice,” she said.
Curtis could not comment further due to possible ongoing investigations by other agencies.
She did acknowledge Google’s cooperation throughout her investigation.