Google investigated by Australian regulator over its Android data harvesting practices

Olive Hawkins
May 16, 2018

The statement said: "Google is completely focused on protecting our users' data while making the products they love work better for them. This allows it to know where a device is connecting or attempting to connect without using the phone's location service".

Just when the world was trying to get over Facebook's Cambridge Analytica controversy, there is another scandal waiting to blow up. Oracle also found that Google could also be gathering round 1GB of person data monthly.

This is not Oracle's first entanglement with Google.

Location, location, location. Is Google tracking Android users' whereabouts without their permission?

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been approached by Oracle, and they have been informed that Google is unethically syphoning off data from Android users' phone, and spying on them. This investigation could potentially affect over 10 million Australian Android users.

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However, beaming that much data back to Google costs gigabytes of mobile data that customers have unknowingly have been unknowingly paying for thinking that it reflects their data usage. A different report estimated that Google tracking would generate more than 23,000 pages of data about a user every two weeks.

Responding to data protection concerns from Google, the spokesman for the US-based company said it required user approval to collect their data.

Even though Google claims that customers have given their consent to hand over the data when they chose to use an Android smartphone, data privacy advocates say that customers are unaware about the real consequences of their decision. However, the company's privacy policy is pretty loose when it comes to the kind of data it collects. The ACCC is particularly concerned that digital platforms like Google and Facebook have tremendous influence on the advertising market. The firm said Google receives detailed information from Android users about their internet searches and locations, even when location services are turned off, and they have no SIM cards or apps installed. For example, it doesn't explicitly mention Android devices, The Guardian notes.

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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