Privacy Commissioner investigates Google

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Privacy Commissioner investigates Google

Data harvest could breach Privacy Act.

The Australian Privacy Commissioner has launched an investigation into Google after revelations that it had been recording data transmissions on WiFi networks using Street View cars.

Google this week admitted to collecting samples of transmissions -- called 'payload data' -- on non-password-protected networks, in addition to publicly broadcast SSIDs and MAC addresses.

It claimed to have been collecting SSIDs and MAC addresses to improve its location-based services, as GPS and mobile tower data was often "insufficiently accurate".

The collection of payload data was a mistake, Google said, promising to dispose of the data following advice from international regulators.

While Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis said that publicly broadcast SSIDs and MAC addresses was not considered personal information under the Privacy Act, the collection of payload data was a different story.

Curtis was reported to have met with Google representatives on Monday, and is discussing "action to be taken by Google in respect of any information it has collected".

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