Google's Privacy Woes Expand to Australia

Google's Privacy Woes Expand to Australia
Google's Privacy Woes Expand to Australia

Google's (GOOG) legal woes over privacy issues in Europe have expanded to Australia after residents in that country recently complained about photographs being taken for Google Maps, according to a Reuters report.

The matter was turned over to the Australian Federal Police on Friday, according to comments from Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland in a Reuters report Sunday. The police were asked to review the matter for potential violations of the country's Telecommunications Interceptions Act, which prohibits unauthorized access to electronic communications.

Google was not immediately available for comment. In the report, however, Google indicated it would cooperate with the investigation.

The new complaints over Google employees taking photographs for the company's Maps site come as search giant is already attempting to respond to growing privacy concerns in France, Germany and Spain over its Street View service. The company recently disclosed it had inadvertently collected private information from individuals who were using unsecured WiFi networks when its Street View vehicles were taking photographs in certain areas.

Late last week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt had told the Financial Times that the company would turn over the collected material to authorities in France, Germany and Spain.

That announcement came after Google was hit with a backlash of criticism after it said it planned to destroy the unauthorized personal information it had collected. At the time, Google also indicated it wasn't sure if it was legal for the company to turn over the information to authorities.

It remains to be seen whether Google latest actions will help it avoid legal action. Canada, according to the report, has also launched an investigation into the Street View matter. Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers are asking the Federal Trade Commission to look into the matter.