Google Found In Violation Of Australian Privacy Act

    July 9, 2010

Google’s indiscretions with regards to WiFi data collection have earned it – for now – three years of close supervision in Australia.  That appears to be about the maximum penalty Australian Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis can impose after determining the company violated a privacy law.

GoogleCurtis said in a statement, "On the information available I am satisfied that any collection of personal information would have breached the Australian Privacy Act."  The catch, she then noted, is that her "role is to work with the organisation to ensure ongoing compliance and best privacy practice," not enforce sanctions.

Still, Google will have to perform (and share) Privacy Impact Assessments whenever it alters its Street View data collection practices.  The company’s supposed to have regular meetings with the Privacy Commissioner about the impact of other product launches, as well.

Curtis even asked Google to post an apology on its official blog to boot.  And that won’t necessarily be the end of things, since other Australian authorities – like the Australian Federal Police – may decide additional consequences would be appropriate.

But for what it’s worth, the message on the Official Google Australia Blog (which was titled "We’re sorry") stated, "We want to reiterate to Australians that this was a mistake for which we are sincerely sorry.  Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do and we have to earn that trust every single day.  We are acutely aware that we failed badly here."

Curtis did acknowledge that Google cooperated with her investigation.