Hi-Tech

Google investigated by Australian regulator over its Android data harvesting practices

Google investigated by Australian regulator over its Android data harvesting practices

Now, the Australian competition and privacy regulator are investigating Oracle's claim that data from the Android devices tell the location of a user to Google, even if the location services are turned off, or even if there is no SIM in the smartphone. Oracle Australia, a branch of Oracle Corporation, recently met with members of the ACCC and claimed that Google harvests an average of a gigabyte of data a month from individual Android users.

Oracle is of course in the middle of an ongoing lawsuit against Google in the U.S. with regards to Google supposedly using protected Java APIs in Android.

Now, considering more than 10 million Australians use Android phones, 1 GB data cost of 10 million Aussies translates to $445 million to $580 million a year. This, when combined with location co-ordinates, would allow Google to work out which shops the user had visited, which meant store visits could be tied to viewing online ads.

The manipulation of technology for disinformation has also rocked tech giants including Facebook and Google, prompting them to consider the role they play in society. The US reportedly intercepted and decrypted messages sent back to Google from mobile phones running on the company's Android operating system.

Google investigated by Australian regulator over its Android data harvesting practices
Google investigated by Australian regulator over its Android data harvesting practices

According to reports: "Google has mapped IP addresses, Wi-Fi connection points, and mobile towers". The data is apparently used to help target users for advertising according to their location.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner added that it is "making inquiries with Google".

Android P is packed with new features, many of which are created to make the software more intuitive to use. Then, by using this data with your coordinates, the search giant can know the shops you visited. 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.

Meanwhile, ACCC and company's Privacy Commissioner said that they are reviewing the claims made by Oracle in its presentation. They also argue that that despite Google's characterization of the feature as "opt-in", their investigation of the service "found that the consent process frequently mischaracterizes the service and degrades the functionality of products in order to push users into providing permission".