A police investigation has found Google did not commit a crime while carrying out its controversial Street View project - but has referred the matter back to the Privacy Commissioner. The commissioner will now re-consider concerns about the information collected by the internet giant from Kiwi's private wireless networks. Google collected the unencrypted Wi-fi data starting in 2008 while using cars to shoot its panoramic digital images for its Street View mapping service. Fears were first raised about the practice by privacy watchdogs in Germany, Britain and Australia, and then Google confirmed it also collected the data in New Zealand. Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff formally referred the matter to the police in June following concerns about what the company could do with the data. Information collected included the names and unique numbers associated with people's wireless networks. Fears raised about the practice included the possibility that Google will be able to match people's mobile devices and internet behaviour to their home address. However, police said today there was no evidence to suggest Google had committed a criminal offence. Detective Senior Sergeant John van den Heuvel of the police national cyber crime centre said the matter was a timely reminder about Wi-Fi security: "Anyone using wi-fi needs to ensure they have appropriate security measures in place," Mr van den Heuvel said. "People should not underestimate the risk that information they broadcast might be accessed by others, either inadvertently or for more sinister purposes." Google has stressed it is not misusing the data, although it has said it would have been better to have greater transparency about the process. It has said it does not collect any information about householders and could not identify individuals from the information collected by its Street View cars. The data, which is publicly available, is used to give precise readings of people's locations if they were using Google's mobile map services, according to the company.
Other moves by Google that have raised privacy concerns: * Google has trialled targeting advertisements at internet users based on their search history. * Google retains personal information people submit to its iGoogle service.