Federal Police investigate Google WiFi privacy breach

By Mahesh Sharma on Jun 7, 2010 8:42 AM
Filed under Security

Government considers Google crackdown.

The Australian Federal Police has confirmed an investigation into search engine giant Google for possible unauthorised access of electronic communications, following a recommendation by the Federal Attorney-General.

AFP High Tech Crime Centre assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan said he had received a request from the Attorney-General last Friday to investigate the search engine company.

"It's been referred and is currently under evaluation by our members," Mr Gaughan said. "In due course we'll be in a position to make further comment."

"It's under evaluation and it's probably best we get and do the investigation without any further comment."

Google CEO Eric Schmidt was forced to apologise last week after the company admitted to inadvertently collecting data from private wireless networks using its Street View cars, which drive around neighbourhoods and take photos for the GoogleMaps software.

The company admitted that over four years it had accumulated about 600 gigabytes of data transmitted over public Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said yesterday that he had referred the matter to the AFP for investigation for possible breaches of the Telecommuncations Interception Act.

"Whether there are charges is a matter for Federal Police," Mr McClelland said.

"In the light of concerns raised by the public, my department doesn't pre-judge these issues, but my department thought there were issues of substance raised that were required a police investigation so what happens from that investigation will be a matter for the AFP."

Mr Gaughan wouldn't be drawn on possible charges.

The Federal Government has been on the front foot against Google. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy accused the search engine giant of deliberately collecting the data in what he called "the biggest single breach in the history of privacy."

Google is an outspoken critic of Senator Conroy's plans for an ISP-level internet filter.

 
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