Google Fights Back At Oracle/ACCC Data Investigation

Responding to data protection concerns from Google, the spokesman for the US-based company said it required user approval to collect their data. Oracle claimed that Google is responsible for approximately A$500 million in data usage. "The types and quantity of such data that a user's device transmits would depend on the products or services they use, and in some cases a user's settings", it added.

Blumenthal and Markey said they asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai for answers, but received a response that raised further questions about their "characterization of basic consumer protection terms". 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. "This allows it to know where a device is connecting or attempting to connect without using the phone's location service". Noted security researcher and the former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Ashkan Soltani, had then opined through a tweet that Oracle may be the hidden source of the allegation: "After 5+ mo of lobbying @oracle managed to finally sell this important @google @android privacy story to the press".

Transferring that information to Google means using up gigabytes of data that consumers have paid for under data packages purchased from telecoms, according to the Oracle report. Overall, the surreptitious data usage of Google costs Australian Android users nearly $580 million a year. Presently, a gigabyte of data costs about $3.60-$4.50 a month.

David Vaile, chairman of the Australian Privacy Foundation, notes that the search giant started such tracking for its Street View surveying, and now, it is being updated with the volumes of data that the Android users are sending back.

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The regulator has reportedly met with the report's author to learn more about how Google services impact customers' privacy and finances.

Are Android users providing "informed consent"?

"Google has an intimate understanding of personal lives as they watch their user's seek the support of reproductive health services, engage in civic activities, or attend places of religious worship", Markey and Blumenthal write. However, at the time, the search giant assured that they would soon end such practices.

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