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.