Google Accused of Harvesting Data from Millions of Australian Android Users


"They are free to disable Google's Location Service at any time, and the data this service sends back to Google's location servers is anonymized".

The Android phones relay the location of the nearby cell towers to Google, without the necessary consent given by the user, the allegation states.

And Google just so happens that it collects a lot more data than Facebook. Oracle also found that Google could also be gathering round 1GB of person data monthly. And that data needs to be transferred over the internet, which means users are paying for the traffic.

In Australia, regulators are investigating how Google is collecting data from Android phones - including location information - reportedly after longtime foe Oracle made a presentation to regulators there, repeating media reports that Android phones track location even when location services are turned off.

This is not Oracle's first entanglement with Google. The company has been embroiled in a huge patent battle with Google over Android, and that legal fight isn't over yet. A different report estimated that Google tracking would generate more than 23,000 pages of data about a user every two weeks.

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With the number of Android users in Australia around 10 million, if Google were to pay to collect their data, the price tag at current data costs would be somewhere between $432 and $540 million annually. 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.

Facebook is not the only company whose user data policies have captured the attention of a government agency. "We are exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the privacy commissioner".

According to a report by The Guardian, the Australian watchdog, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was looking into the claims made by the software company Oracle that Android devices send detailed information on searches, what is being viewed, and the location data to Google even when the location services are turned off and there is no SIM card in the device.

Like the USA senators, Australian regulators question whether consumers have given valid consent for the extent of Google's information collection.