AFP: Google off the hook for privacy breach

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AFP: Google off the hook for privacy breach

Low chance of criminal prosecution.

The Australian Federal Police has found evidence to suggest Google may have breached the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 when it intercepted Wi-Fi data during filming for its StreetView service.

But, according to a statement issued late Friday, the AFP rated the prospects of a successful prosecution against Google as "low".

The investigation was initiated by the Attorney-General's Department, which sought an AFP probe into whether Google had breached the Act when it harvested the private data of Australian citizens via Wi-Fi.

Google announced on its official blog in May that it "...did indeed collect and store payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks, but not from networks that were encrypted."

Despite this, the AFP's investigation concluded that proving this admission in court as a criminal breach in Australia would be tough.

"Due to the technical complexity of any possible breach, the AFP engaged external senior counsel to assist in the assessment of the referral. Advice provided by the senior counsel concluded that the activities of Google may have constituted a breach of the [Act]," police said.

Gathering sufficient evidence required for an examination of potential breaches led AFP to conclude 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," it said.

The AFP also said it was satisfied with Google's undertakings to the Australian Privacy Commissioner to prevent similar incidents in the future and Google's intention to destroy the information obtained upon conclusion of government inquiries.

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