Rudd backs Conroy in WiFi attack

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has backed Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s sustained attacks on search giant Google over the company’s bungled collection of Wi-Fi payload data by its Street View cars on their travels around the globe.

“Minister Conroy has accused Google of hoovering up banking details which a Google person says is wrong” a journalist asked Rudd in a doorstop interview yesterday. “Is the Minister prejudicing an [Australian Federal Police] investigation of this continuing claim?”

Answered Rudd: “The Minister’s statements speak for themselves I’m sure they’ll be a continued robust exchange between himself and the various companies concerned. I’m sure they’ll both argue their positions — I stand by what the Minister has said.” The transcription is available online.

The comments come as technical organisation the Systems Administrators Guild of Australia (SAGE-AU) yesterday criticised Conroy for stating that Google may have collected internet banking details in what he has described as possibly “the largest privacy breach in history across Western democracies”.

SAGE-AU said Conroy’s banking claims were “misinformation verging on fear-mongering”.

But the Wi-Fi issue continues to dog Google with Attorney-General Robert McLelland revealing on Sunday that he had referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police. Google has maintained that the collection of data was a mistake and stated that it was talking to the appropriate authorities to answer any questions they have.