The Google Street View wi-fi spying scandal may have been quelled in the United States, but the fun’s just getting started in other parts of the world. Over the weekend, an independent privacy watchdog in United Kingdom launched an investigation into Google’s use of the Street View cars to sponge up information from people using unsecured wi-fi networks. Today, Australia’s government is joining Team Investigate Google.
Australia’s Privacy Commissioner, Timonthy Pilgrim, is planning to reassess whether Google should be referred to the Australian Federal Police following the U.S. Federal Communications Commission report that found Google had essentially covered up the wi-fi spying habits of the Google Street View car in spite of Google previously saying it wasn’t really doing all that spying.
Google’s Street View cars typically drive around the world and photograph ground-level images so that users of Google Maps can take walking virtual tours of different areas. However, information was recently made public that not only were Google Street View cars secretly collecting personal information from unencrypted wi-fi networks like browser histories, emails, chats, passwords, and many other bits of personal data, but that supervisors at the company actually knew about the info-siphoning.
The FCC has fined Google for delaying and obstructing the agency’s investigation into the Google Maps spying on wi-fi practice but didn’t really do anything to Google for being a Big Brother creep and spying on people. More, the fine was a measly $25,000, which is barely a bite of bread crust for Google. Stay tuned to see what Australia’s government decides to dish out to Google (if anything).