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Google investigated by Australian regulator over its Android data harvesting practices

By midian182 · 8 replies
May 15, 2018
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  1. A tech giant is being investigated for its data collection practices, but this time it isn’t Facebook. An Australian regulator is looking into claims that Google collects data from millions of Android handset users, who are unknowingly paying their telecoms providers for the gigabytes consumed during this harvesting.

    The move is part of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) inquiry into digital platforms; an investigation that was set up after Australian media companies expressed concerns over the impact Google and Facebook are having on the advertising market, according to The Guardian.

    Part of the review saw Oracle make a presentation to the ACCC. 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. Oracle added that the transfer of this information was eating into users’ data allowance purchased from their telecoms providers—up to a gigabyte a month, which seems like quite a lot to go unnoticed.

    “The ACCC met with Oracle and is considering information it has provided about Google services,” said Chairman of the ACCC, Rod Sims. “We are exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the privacy commissioner.”

    Australian telecoms companies are now asking Google about the accuracy of the allegations. “We are aware of the reports in the media and we have asked Google to advise whether they are accurate,” a spokesman for Australia’s biggest telecom company Telstra said.

    A Google spokesperson said the company had users’ permission to collect data.

    Even by tech company standards, Google and Oracle are far from friends. The latter recently won a long-running legal battle over Google’s use of Java in Android.

    Back in November, Google confirmed it used nearby cellular towers to track Android users when location services were turned off, and when no sim cards or apps were present. But the company said at the time that it was stopping the practice by the end of the month.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,601   +3,062

    It would be very interesting to see a comparison of how much data is stripped from your account vs. how much revenue is generated from it being sold, resold, and resold again .....
    regiq likes this.
  3. trparky

    trparky TS Evangelist Posts: 394   +277

    About time that they're investigated for this crap, Google doesn't give a crap about our privacy.
    wiyosaya and JaredTheDragon like this.
  4. Jeff Re

    Jeff Re TS Addict Posts: 125   +89

    I had to restrict my background data because Google Play Services was using a gigabyte a month of my cellular data.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  5. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Guru Posts: 482   +317

    "But the company said at the time that it was stopping the practice by the end of the month."

    Hah haa! Hilarious. Alphabet, stopping a huge money-making practice on their own, of their own accord. Sure.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  6. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 710   +351

    Why is this coming from Oracle? What do they gain by making these claims?
    Also strange why it's specific to Australia. I'm in Europe and almost 2 weeks into my monthly plan and so far my Android phone has sent 2.5 MBs of data (over mobile and WiFi). I have all App updates turned off if that makes any difference.
  7. Kreegir

    Kreegir TS Rookie

    I'd like to hear Google's response to this. It is curious that they would choose Oracle to get usage information from seeing the history between these 2 companies and how they figured Oracle would have full knowledge of Google's data collection practice.
    On a side note that nice little license fee Oracle just tossed onto java starting Jan 2019 has a lot of companies looking to pivot away from Java I'm guessing.
  8. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,177   +1,620

    Sounds about right. I have an android tablet that I use as a home theater remote control. I wrote a service that runs (more like waits) in the background for input. When I first installed the service, the android OS would randomly kill the service to save power - even though it was not using any power. I eventually uninstalled most of the default gagme services (which I am not using anyway) and lo and behold, the service stays running all the time. There's a couple of warning messages that are in the notification area, but I don't care. My service runs without having to hard-power off, then back on again.
  9. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,177   +1,620

    And then for someone to come up with a means to pay a royalty to everyone who's data is being sold.

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