The Privacy Commissioner announced today that she has concluded her investigation into Google's collection of WiFi information during its Street View filming. Google has apologised to New Zealanders and has taken some major steps to improve its privacy standards from now on.
While it was conducting its Street View filming, Google also collected certain other information from WiFi networks within the range of the Street View cars:
Easily accessible WiFi information such as names of networks ('open WiFi information') and
contents of communications from unsecured WiFi networks ('payload information').
'Google has acknowledged that it went about things the wrong way here' said the Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff.
'It failed to tell people that it was collecting the open WiFi information and what it was going to use it for. This was not good enough. Google also breached our privacy law when it collected the content of people's communications.
'It is important that Google makes sure that these mistakes do not keep happening. For technology to be successful, people need to trust it. If they don't trust it, they won't use it.
'I am pleased that Google has taken full responsibility for the mistakes it made here, and that it has improved its practices to prevent future privacy breaches. This includes training their staff better, and checking new products carefully before they're released.'
14 December 2010
Contact: Katrine Evans on 021 509 735.
For further information see:
* Report of the Privacy Commissioner on Google's collection of WiFi information during Street View filming.
* Google's NZ blog is at: http:google-newzealand.blogspot.com
* WiFi tips.