Google gets in hot water down under

Search outfit Google is in trouble down-under after Aussie privacy watchdogs have snarled about its collecting of data on wi-fi networks.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Google Australia will today be sent a “please explain” letter from two local privacy organisations demanding to know why the company has been collecting personal wi-fi network data from Australian homes alongside the images it takes with its Street View cameras.

The outfit has been collecting wi-fi data around the world when taking pictures of streets and houses for its mapping service.

Street View cars have been scanning private network signals as it drives through neighbourhoods.

There is some concern that the wi-fi data could be used to match mobile devices to residential addresses has privacy campaigners on alert.

Geordie Guy, vice-chairman of Electronic Frontiers Australia,  questioned why an organisation like Google that already knows so much about individuals, that is driving around and taking photos of every street in Australia, is collecting data that could enable it to physically map that information to a physical street and presumably a physical house.

The EFA and Australian Privacy Foundation are jointly drafting a letter that will be sent to Google today. It is not clear what action the outfits will take if Google does not give them a jolly good reason for its actions.