AFP drops charges on Google Street View blunder

AFP drops charges on Google Street View blunder

Australian Federal Police decides not to take case further, despite possibility actions may have been a privacy breach

A member of Google's international Street View fleet of cars believed to have intercepted traffic on unsecured wireless networks.

A member of Google's international Street View fleet of cars believed to have intercepted traffic on unsecured wireless networks.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has dropped charges against Google related to the collection of Wi-Fi data by its Street View cars, noting the data collection may have been "inadvertent" rather than a deliberate privacy breach.

The Federal Government had referred the matter to the AFP on 3 June this year, after the revelation of the data collection in a number of countries made international headlines. At the time, communications minister, Stephen Conroy, referred to the incident as possibly "the largest privacy breach in history across Western democracies".

Google publicly apologised for the blunder and pledged commitment to destroying the data as well as cooperation with the Federal Privacy Commissioner on the issue. Its fleet of Street View cars [{Artnid:366213|have also been inactive]] as part of the search giant's response.

The AFP stated late last week that it had engaged legal assistance to assist in the assessment of Google's actions. Advice provided by that party concluded that the incident may have constituted a breach of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act. However, the AFP decided not to take the case further.

"Evidence exists to suggest that the potential breach of the TIA by Google was inadvertent," a statement from the agency reads. "Coupled with the difficulty of gathering sufficient evidence required for an examination of potential breaches, the AFP has concluded that it would not be an efficient and effective use of the AFP's resources to pursue this matter any further.

"The likelihood of a successful criminal prosecution in this matter is considered to be low."

The AFP highlighted that law enforcement agencies had made "comparable conclusions" in similar situations internationally, resolving them within their national privacy regimes. The AFP also noted it was satisfied with Google's undertakings to the Australian Privacy Commissioner.

The authority recommended users take advantage of the Federal Government's Stay Smart Online cyber security information site and secure their wireless networks to enhance internet security.

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