Katina Michael, vice-chair of Australian Privacy Foundation, said that while Google should be "patted on the back" for helping law enforcement tackle a heinous crime, the ramifications of the incident made it deeply concerning.
"For every successful case like this, there are tens of thousands of privacy breaches into everyday, non-criminal users' accounts that are intensely worrying," Dr Michael said. "Blanket surveillance such as this is not in the best interests of society."
Given the ambiguity around the software involved and the public's lack of awareness about the widespread and pervasive nature of Google's surveillance, Dr Michael said deeply private images such as of a child's christening could trigger a red alert when they were not remotely illegal.
"Too many people assume their Gmail account and online life is private, and this case highlights this risk," she said.