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Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for Street View Published in Australia

Google Australia made blog post to update on the ongoing investigation that started by last year, by the Privacy Commissioner into the collection of publicly broadcast payload data (information sent over unencrypted WiFi networks) through Google’s Street View cars.

“When the Commissioner concluded the investigation last year, we committed to working even more closely with them on the privacy implications of our product launches going forward.

One of the commitments we made to the Commissioner was to conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) on any further Street View activities in Australia. Today we’re publishing that PIA. We have carefully considered the potential privacy impact of Street View and how to manage present and future privacy issues. In summary, we’ll continue to:

  • Ensure Street View images are’t real time.
  • Use automatic technology to blur faces and licence plates before publishing imagery. If one of our images contains an identifiable face or an identifiable licence plate, our technology will blur it automatically, meaning that the individual or the vehicle cannot be identified.
  • Provide the “Report a problem” tool which allows users to request further blurring or removal of any image or let us know if our detectors miss something,” informs Google.

In addition, “we removed all WiFi equipment from our Street View cars and willn’t be collecting any WiFi data via the Street View cars. We’ve also taken steps to strengthen our internal privacy controls. Last Oct Google appointed Alma Whitten as director of privacy across both engineering and product management. Her focus is ensuring that we build effective privacy controls into our products and internal practices. We’ve also enhanced our privacy training program for employees, and we require every engineering project leader to maintain a privacy design document for each initiative they are working on. This document records how user data is handled and will be reviewed regularly by managers, as well as by an independent internal audit team,” Google stated.

“We want to reiterate to Australians that our collection of payload data was a mistake for which we’re sincerely sorry. Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do, and we’ve to earn that trust every single day,” added Google Australia.

[Source: Google Australia Blog]

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