The Australian Federal Police tackle Google

Having already endured a withering attack from Senator Stephen Conroy over its collection of private Wi-Fi data Google is now facing an Australian Federal Police investigation into whether the incident has broken Australian laws.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland confirmed at the launch of National Cyber Security Awareness Week in Melbourne this weekend that an AFP investigation was formally launched late last week.

“There have been some complaints voiced — and understandably — voiced by the public in respect to practices that have been reported involving allegations that some information may have been obtained by staff of Google travelling around the streets” McClelland said.

“Last week the Attorney-General’s department on Friday did refer those allegations and those reports to the Australian Federal Police for further investigation.”

“Obviously I won’t pre-empt the outcome of that investigation but they relate in substantial part to possible breaches of the Telecommunications Interception Act which prevents people accessing electronic communications other than for authorised purposes.”

McClelland refused to speculate over whether criminal charges would be laid against Google staff. “Obviously these things require investigation and everyone’s entitled to procedural fairness. Whether there are charges is a matter for the federal police. My department doesn’t prejudge these issues but it was thought there were issues of substance that were raised that required a police investigation.

Google is already under investigation in multiple countries including Germany Canada and the UK over the collection of private Wi-Fi data by Street View vehicles. Google has maintained that the incident resulted from the mistaken re-use of code and that no private data has been shared.