Google off the hook - Aussie cops call off criminal investigation
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) announced,
late on Friday afternoon (usually a good time for bad news, catching journalists just after they have left for the pub for the weekend), that Google would face no criminal charges over its interception of WiFi traffic in Australia.
Google landed in hot water early in 2010 when it emerged that its Street View cars had been hoovering up and retaining snooped WiFi traffic whilst driving around the towns and cities of the world.
The plan, apparently, was to record and to map the names and MAC addresses
of WiFi access points.
Google, it seems, not only recorded and retained network names and address, but also the contents of any data frames it sniffed as it went by.
This means that the search giant ended up with snippets of internet traffic, potentially from millions of users.
So if you were using unencrypted WiFi when Google drove past, you ran the risk of having personally identifiable information - snippets of email you were reading, perhaps, or fragments of pictures you were uploading - grabbed and retained by the 200kg gorilla of the internet search-and-advertising industry.