Australian regulators are investigating Google for allegedly spying on Android users and having them pay for the privilege. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is looking into allegations by tech company – Oracle, claiming that Android device sends information on searches to Google. The information includes – what is being viewed and location data (even if location services are turned off and also if there is no SIM card in the device).
The allegations first surfaced in November media reports. The source of information was not disclosed at that time. Former Federal Trade Commission’s chief technologist, Ashkan Soltani claimed that Oracle had disseminated the story, and also the company had been trying to do so for months.
Oracle also claims that Australia’s millions of Android users unwittingly pay their phone providers to send the data to Google. However, Google says that it has permission from users for all of this and that customers don’t have to foot the bill. The feud between Google and Oracle has officially spilt over into the tech-privacy debate. Oracle is advising an investigation into Google’s alleged tracking of Android phones and its users. The Australian competition and privacy regulators are looking into Oracle’s allegations.
Oracle has now openly presented the allegations to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). ACCC is probing Google and Facebook’s impact on the advertising market. Oracle claimed all of these private data transfers add up to about a gigabyte per month. The user has to pay for the same. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner said it was “making inquiries with Google.” ACCC said:
We are exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the Privacy Commissioner.
Google has been fighting Oracle in court for years over the code used in Android. Tech-giant Google took a hit back at its nemesis by claiming that Oracle plays a significant role in behind-the-scenes trafficking in people’s data. Google said:
Google is completely focused on protecting our users’ data while making the products they love work better for them. They (Users) can see what data is collected and how the same is used, in one easy place, My Account, and control it all from there.
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.
Any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a(any) specific user.
Oracle declined any response to Google’s parry.