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Privacy Australia Google Government Wireless Networking Your Rights Online

Australian Police To Investigate Google Over Wi-Fi Scanning 117

daria42 writes "Those who thought the brouhaha over Google's scanning of Wi-Fi networks by its Street View cars was over (whether you believe it was deliberate or not) are destined to be disappointed. News comes from Australia over the weekend that the Australian government has referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police for investigation. The country's Attorney General, Robert McClelland, was quoted saying, '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 information other than for authorized purposes.'"
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Australian Police To Investigate Google Over Wi-Fi Scanning

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  • give it a rest (Score:3, Insightful)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @12:57PM (#32476228) Homepage Journal

    Is this the world's favorite new way to waste time, suing google for recording publicly available information from wifi spots as they drive?

    idiots. ALL idiots.

  • In other news.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thenextstevejobs ( 1586847 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @01:06PM (#32476314)
    Australian police arrest a subject for illegal surveillance for overhearing another parties conversation while walking down the street.
  • Re:give it a rest (Score:4, Insightful)

    by melikamp ( 631205 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @01:06PM (#32476318) Homepage Journal

    May be they are using this law in order to get access to all of the collected data.

  • It's Sad... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YodaYid ( 1049908 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @01:26PM (#32476474) Homepage
    ...that as an American, I'm looking to Europe and Australia to actually stand up to Google and stop them from collecting every bit of data they can about me, like actually sending a van outside my house to grab information about my home network.
  • Re:It's Sad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Iyonesco ( 1482555 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @01:54PM (#32476666)

    You're actively broadcasting information about your home network and then complaining when somebody listens. That's like setting up a facebook account and then whining when somebody looks at it or talking very loudly in a room and complaining when people listen. You're being absurd!

    Why not just use a wired network? I don't like broadcasting my information to the world so I exclusively use wired network connections. You on the other hand also don't like broadcasting your information to the world but keep doing it and just whine about it.

    The only information Google ever collect is the information you give them, be it through using their services or buy specifically buying a wireless rooter to broadcast it to them. If you don't like them collecting information stop giving it to them. Far from Google being your problem it seems to me that you are your own worst enemy.

  • Re:In other news.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:04PM (#32476748) Journal
    It's about reasonable expectations. You can reasonably assume that someone nearby has an ear. Maybe even two. You can also reasonably assume that they will be able to hear you if youtalk at normal volume.

    You would not normally be listening with an electronic listening and recording device, or a laser microphone (which simply detects publicly visible vibrations), or climbing a tree in a public area purely in order to see you naked in your back yard.

    Likewise, you don't expect people to be arbitrarily scanning for wireless data.

    If you're a mutant that can, without any additional equipment, detect wi-fi signals, then you shouldn't be prosecuted, but I'm sure that isn't a requirement for being hired by Google.
  • Re:In other news.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sabriel ( 134364 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @05:08PM (#32477972)

    Likewise, you don't expect people to be arbitrarily scanning for wireless data.

    Actually, I do expect people to be arbitrarily scanning for wireless data. ECHELON aside, radio scanners have been publicly available for many years in Australia.

  • Re:It's Sad... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zuperduperman ( 1206922 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:08PM (#32478856)

    This is what amazes me about this whole incident. Not one official person (other than from Google) has even once mentioned that people should protect their privacy by putting passwords on their Wifi access points.

    On the radio just today, Stephen Conroy said that Google may have captured people doing "sensitive banking transactions" as they drove past, as if it would be perfectly safe for them if only Google hadn't driven past and captured the data. Overlooking that all banking transactions are done over https, Conroy was effectively advising people that extremely risky behavior is perfectly OK. There is a level of extreme hypocrisy about the whole debate that leads me to believe this is 100% a witch hunt primarily designed to distract from the government's own desire to violate our privacy.

  • Re:It's Sad... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:37PM (#32479056)

    I'm not actively broadcasting anything - my router is. It may seem like a silly distinction, but as far as I'm concerned, all I want is private wireless service in the confines of my own home. The fact that my router is sending out information beyond the bounds of my home is an unfortunate side effect of physics.

    I didn't kill the man - my gun did. The fact that my gun is sending out bullets beyond the bounds of its barrel is an unfortunate side effect of physics."

  • Re:give it a rest (Score:4, Insightful)

    by williamhb ( 758070 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @08:12PM (#32479298) Journal

    Is this the world's favorite new way to waste time, suing google for recording publicly available information from wifi spots as they drive?

    I hope they prosecute the pants off them. Suppose it wasn't Google but Microsoft. Would you still be happy for them to be intentionally gathering data (be it records of who has which WiFi device or the actual conversations) just because the electromagnetic fields were leaking through your walls? After all, the heat radiation that escapes through your walls and windows is "publicly available" so surely it'd be ok for them to sit outside with a thermal camera pointed at your house. And the sound radiation that leaks through too -- so there'd be "no problem" with them pointing very sensitive directional microphones towards your bedroom window and recording that too... I mean, it's just your own silly fault for not installing a lead-lined cone of silence over your bed...

    No, this is just slashdot giving Google a free pass (Slashdot's Google love-in), even though Google explicitly intended to gather and sell data about you without your permission. Their excuse is "oops, we didn't mean to gather quite that much data" not that they didn't mean to do it at all.

  • Re:It's Sad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @09:13PM (#32479630)

    I'm not actively broadcasting anything

    Yes you are. You connected a fairly powerful radio transceiver to your computer and (for some unaccountable reason) expect it to be treated as if it were a bunch of cables coming out of an Ethernet switch. Dude, it's a transmitter, and it broadcasts, and if you have any expectation that the world will respect your privacy when you're broadcasting data beyond the confines of your own home, well, you're not too bright. Doesn't matter if we're talking a WAP or just a regular Internet connection ... if you put something out on the wires the possibility always exists that someone will use that information in ways that you might regret. Take steps. Don't expect the law to help you because it cannot.

    I didn't give Google anything. They sent a van to my street and took it, without my consent or permission.

    Whine whine whine. They shouldn't need your consent or permission, any more than you need the consent of your local radio station to listen to some music. You gave that data to Google (and anyone else passing by your home) by turning on your access point. It's that simple. If you don't like that, don't turn the thing on. You're just torqued because you didn't realize what your little Linksys box was doing. Well, that's your fault, nobody elses.

  • Re:give it a rest (Score:3, Insightful)

    by williamhb ( 758070 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @11:55PM (#32480392) Journal

    Actually, as somebody who's played with this stuff, I can tell you that you have no idea what you're even talking about. Do you realise how hard it is to actually pick up a single conversation from outside a house.

    Very easy. I can sit on my back deck and hear conversations going on in the four houses surrounding us. Most people don't shut their windows, and some even have lunch on their back decks, nattering away perhaps 2 metres from me with no walls in between. That their conversation is audible in public does not give me permission to record and sell who was having conversations with whom and when, let alone "accidentally" record the words that were spoken.

    Driving past with a friggin $20 wifi card, I can pickup all your *open* wifi traffic.

    Driving past with a 2c carrier bag to put it in, I can steal the mail from your letterbox. With a $2 screwdriver, I can rip the whole letterbox off your fence. Does that make it legal?

    If you're retarded enough to not turn on the password on your laptop, I'm's just ridiculous in this day and age. Five years ago, when Wifi was "new" maybe, but not now. And your signal is being broadcast *outside* over somebody else's airspace, so it's not even trespass..

    And if you had turned on your password (as most do) and even hidden the SSID -- Google would still have recorded that you had a WiFi, including any information it could gather about its make, model, and the likely ISP you are using, and would have sold that information to third parties without your permission as was their explicit original intention. Short of lead-lining your house there were *no actions* you could take to prevent Google from recording and selling some information about what you were doing in your home.

  • Re:give it a rest (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wanon ( 808109 ) on Monday June 07, 2010 @10:43AM (#32483686)

    It may be publically available, but it's very specifically prohibited under the Australian Telecommunications Interception Act.

    If the AFP choose to, they would be prosecuted under criminal law, they wont be sued.

    People can go to jail for this. The government will not be making any sort of money out of this. Only upholding the law.

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