The Federal Government has called upon the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to launch an investigation into alleged breaches of privacy by Google after the media giant said it mistakenly collected private data through unsecured wireless networks.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland asked the AFP to initiate the investigation, during National Cyber Security Awareness Week, after his department received a number of complaints from the public, according to ABC News.
Discussing the legality of Google's actions, HopgoodGanim lawyer Michael Morris said that any possible action against Google, after it disclosed that it had mistakenly collected the data, would depend not only on the evidence of what was collected, but also when and from who, it was collected.
Morris explained that the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 - the legislation forming the basis for McClelland's investigation - only applies to "communications" and "parts of communications", and regulates the manner in which live communications can be intercepted as well as access to stored information. Whether Google's conduct will come under the Act, Morris said, will turn on the evidence of what exactly was collected.
"I don't think [Google] will have infringed that Act unless what they actually did was [intercept] a live communication....but I think all it was doing was basically soaking up unsecured Wi-Fi communications that were going on," he said.
"What this investigation will try to get to the bottom of is the actual information [that] Google does have [and] my understanding is they have [Google] said that they have already deleted [the information].
"I very much doubt that Google will be charged under the Act."
- Briana Everett
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