Australia probes claim Google harvests data, consumers pay
Australia probes claim Google harvests data, consumers pay
ACCC investigating claims by Oracle that Google is tracking your movements and using your data to report them
15 May, 2018, 22:36
The Australian Commission for the Protection of Competition and Consumers and the Privacy Commissioner say they are looking at the findings in the report.
Google says it is always focused on protecting user data and making its products better.
Google is under investigation in Australia following claims that it collects data from millions of Android smartphones users, who unwittingly pay their telecom for gigabytes consumed during the harvesting, regulators said yesterday.
Oracle, according to The Australian newspaper, said Alphabet receives detailed information about people's internet searches and user locations if they have a phone that carries Android - the mobile operating system developed by Google.
Although Google insists that data tracking is lawful when done with the permission of mobile users, data privacy advocates are uncertain if it's being made clear enough to Android users that it includes their mobile devices as well - leaving open the question of how valid that consent is. This way, Google tracks Android users without using the phone's location service, the software company claims.
Oracle is of course in the middle of an ongoing lawsuit against Google in the U.S. with regards to Google supposedly using protected Java APIs in Android.
A fellow USA tech firm Oracle has reported that Google is prying on Australian mobile subscribers by not only tracking them but also collecting information related to a user's surfing patterns. "Most consumers do not understand the level, granularity, and reach of Google's data collection", Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, and Markey, a Democrat from MA, argue in their May 11 letter to FTC chairman Joseph Simons.
Even when an individual's location service is disabled, Android would gather the addresses of nearby cellular towers and then share this data with Google, a practice it began at the start of 2017, according to the Quartz report.
"We are exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the privacy commissioner".
A gig of data now costs about $3.60-$4.50 a month.
Oracle has its own long-running dispute with Google.
"Google has an intimate understanding of personal lives as they watch their user's seek the support of reproductive health services, engage in civic activities, or attend places of religious worship", Markey and Blumenthal write. With more than ten million Australians using Android phones, they could be paying $580 million in unnecessary fees every year.
He added that one could choose not to opt in to location sharing and claimed Oracle's presentation was "sleight of hand".
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