In 2010, it was revealed that Google’s Street View cars collected more than just happy snaps of the nation’s unkempt front yards — the vehicles also gathered data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks and although unintentional, the factoid did not go down well with the FCC in the States, or Australia’s own Privacy Commissioner.
A new report from the latter organisation, suggesting Google was aware of the unscrupulous activity from as earlier as 2007, has not spurred the Commissioner into opening a new investigation into the search giant.
Google’s damage control two years ago involved publishing a formal apology, as well as a promise to keep the Commissioner up-to-date on any “personal data collection activities” it might engage in, including Street View.
In a statement on May 29, Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim declared he was satisfied by these measures and despite the FCC’s findings, would not be pursuing further action against the company. It should be noted that, even if he did decide to chase up the issue, the Privacy Act “does not currently allow [him] to impose any enforceable undertakings”, leaving it up to Google to comply with the department’s wishes. This situation, however, should change in the future:
I am pleased that the Government has introduced a Bill into the Parliament to amend the Privacy Act that will, amongst other things, give me access to enforceable remedies for investigations of this type”.