Media Release: Finalisation of Google referral

Release Date: Friday, December 03 2010, 04:00 PM

On 3 June 2010 the AFP received a referral from the Attorney-General’s Department requesting consideration be given to whether Google had breached the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA) after Google publicly announced it had obtained personal data transmitted across unsecure wireless networks in Australia.
 
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 TIA.
 
Evidence exists to suggest that the potential breach of the TIA by Google was inadvertent. Coupled with the difficulty of gathering sufficient evidence required for an examination of potential breaches, the AFP has concluded 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.
 
Law enforcement agencies have made comparable conclusions in relation to similar experiences in overseas jurisdictions that have been resolved within the privacy regimes that exist in those jurisdictions.
 
The AFP are satisfied that Google has given undertakings to the Australian Privacy Commissioner in relation to preventing similar incidents in the future and Google’s intention to destroy the information obtained upon conclusion of Government agency enquiries.

The AFP encourages internet users to secure their wireless devices to enhance their internet security. For further information: http://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/home_internet_users/secure_your_computer/secure_your_wireless_network


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