Google probed in Australia for allegedly tracking phone users at their expense

Greg Lawrence
May 15, 2018

Location, location, location. Is Google tracking Android users' whereabouts without their permission?

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 data. 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 company gets detailed information about people's searches on the internet and their location if they have an Android phone - the Google mobile operating system. The ACCC was already investigating Google and Facebook's impact on the advertising market. This, in turn, helped the advertisers to work out on which level of a shopping mall was the target consumer at. "This set of options is inadequate and the confusing consent process is replicated throughout Android's various settings, where location privacy is often mischaracterized or subdivided so few users could effectuate their choice to opt-out of Google's location data gathering". Oracle also found that Google could also be gathering round 1GB of person data monthly.

Two Democratic senators in a letter on Monday urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Google has deceptively collected location data on Android users, even when such services are disabled.

The data collection also reportedly continues to take place even when the phone has been reset to its factory condition, its SIM card has been removed, or when no apps are running on the cellular device.

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However, as per a report by Symantec, there are seven apps that have reappeared on the Google Play Store even after they alerted Google of the malware and original apps were henceforth removed.

The ACCC does not seem to be taking Oracle's claims at face value, but is "considering information it has provided about Google services". We are exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the privacy commissioner, he further added.

In Australia, 1 GB of data costs roughly $3.60-$4.50 a month.

U.S. software company Oracle has always been involved in a dispute with Google over the infringed use of Oracle's Java intellectual property.

Volvo and Google first teamed up a year ago when Volvo first announced it would be using an Android-based infotainment system in future cars.

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