Sci-tech

Australia investigates Google data harvesting from Android phones

Australia investigates Google data harvesting from Android phones

Oracle has now openly reported the matter to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which is investigating the case.

Google is under investigation in Australia following claims that it collects data from millions of Android smartphones users, who unwittingly pay their telecom service providers for gigabytes consumed during the harvesting, regulators said on Tuesday.

U.S. software company Oracle has always been involved in a dispute with Google over the infringed use of Oracle's Java intellectual property.

The FTC complaint asserted that "even if the consumer had restricted an application's access to the location API, until December 2015, Defendant still tracked the consumer's location and, in many instances, served geo-targeted ads, by collecting information about the WiFi networks that the consumer's device connected to or that were in-range of the consumer's device".

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According to experts from Oracle, Google collected this data to help advertisers. Fortune further reports that "Oracle also said Android devices sent Google detailed information on people's searches and surfing".

Google also mapped IP addresses and Wi-Fi connection spots where mobile phones connected or attempted to connect, the report says.

"We investigate how users know about the use of their location data, and work closely with the Privacy Commissioner", said Geesche Jacobsen, a spokesman for the competition regulator. Unless the phone is off, Google is able to constantly track it, whether their phones are in active use or set to airplane mode. "Like many of Oracle's corporate tactics, this presentation is sleight of hand, not facts, and given that Oracle markets itself as the world's biggest data broker, they know it". Among the questions that remain: whether Google actually gives users the right to opt out of location tracking, as the company says it does, and whether Google is being transparent about how it's using location data.

A gig of data now costs about $3.60-$4.50 a month. This investigation could potentially affect over 10 million Australian Android users. Everyone who uses Google services must agree to these terms and conditions, but there is now a debate over whether this consent is valid.


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