Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Is Google tracking location without permission? FTC probe urged, Australia inquiry begins

Google using Australians' mobile data to spy on them: claim ACCC investigating claims by Oracle that Google is tracking your movements and using your data to report them
| 15 May, 2018, 22:36

Quartz first reported in January about the sly and confusing ways Google cajoles Android users to opt into Location History, and the plethora of data points the company collects when it's enabled. The Australian Commission for the Protection of Competition and Consumers and the Privacy Commissioner say they are looking at the findings in the report.

Responding to the latest privacy concerns surrounding Google, a spokesman for the US-based search engine operator said the company has users' permission to collect their data.

Australian authorities launched an investigation into Google's massive data harvest from smartphones, which reportedly allows the search giant to track users' movements even with location services turned off. According to the experts at Oracle cited by the ACCC, Google is draining around 1GB of mobile data monthly from Android phone users' accounts. This to help it earn more advertising dollars.

A fellow United States tech firm Oracle has reported that Google is prying on Australian mobile subscribers by not only tracking them but also collecting information related to a user's surfing patterns.

Even though Google claims that customers have given their consent to hand over the data when they chose to use an Android smartphone, data privacy advocates say that customers are unaware about the real consequences of their decision.


With the EU General Data Protection Regulation set to come into force in just 11 days' time Google could also face further privacy investigations in Europe. Oracle claimed that Google is responsible for approximately A$500 million in data usage.

"We are exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the Privacy Commissioner", the ACCC said in a statement. But it does not appear to mention the constant monitoring in the background when Maps is not in use.

"Some mobile plans may only include a few gigabytes of data so if Google is harvesting a gigabyte of data, it is a very real cost to consumers", said David Vaile, chairman of the industry group, the Australian Privacy Foundation.

According to Oracle, Google is accessing information such as barometric pressure readings and coordinates, which could be used to work out whether someone is located outside or in a shopping centre. Now, Google is being investigated for allegedly tracking Android phone users.

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