Google apologizes to Australia for WiFi data collection

Google apologized to Australians Friday after Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis found that the search giant violated the country's privacy laws while collecting data through its Street View cars.

"We want to reiterate to Australians that this was a mistake for which we are sincerely sorry. Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do and we have to earn that trust every single day. We are acutely aware that we failed badly here," wrote Alan Eustace, senior vice president for Engineering & Research on Google's official Australia blog.

Curtis released a statement Friday explaining that despite Google's violation, the law does not allow her to impose any sanctions on the company because she initiated the investigation. Instead Google provided Curtis with written assurances that it would publish an apology, conduct a privacy impact assessment on any future Street View data collection activities and regularly consult with her office about new product launches in Australia.

"Collecting personal information in these circumstances is a very serious matter. Australians should reasonably expect that private communications remain private," Curtis said. "These steps will ensure Google's future products have privacy protections built in rather than bolted on."

Curtis said the commitments from Google will last three years. Eustace said Google will work closely Curtis' office to ensure a similar situation doesn't arise.

"We welcome today’s conclusion of this investigation, and as a result we have committed to working even more closely with them going forward on the privacy implications of our product launches," Eustace wrote.