Google is under investigation in Australia for data collection via Android devices

15 May, 2018, 22:38 | Author: Harriet Bell
  • Google using Australians' mobile data to spy on them: claim

Both the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the nation's Privacy Commissioner said they were reviewing the report's findings. The company has also claimed in the past that Google's Android data exfiltration activities go as far as recording the cell mast users' smartphones are connected to. 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.

Oracle, according to the Australian newspaper, said Alphabet receives detailed information about people's Internet searches and user locations if they have a phone that runs Android - the mobile operating system developed by Google. The ACCC is particularly concerned that digital platforms like Google and Facebook have tremendous influence on the advertising market.

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. Moreover, the phone doesn't need to have any apps installed, or even a SIM card inserted.

Google also mapped IP addresses and Wi-Fi connection spots where mobile phones connected or attempted to connect, the report says. 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".

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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. "We are exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the Privacy Commissioner".

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

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.

For context, Oracle has actively been in court with Google for more than 5 years over whether Android's usage of Java was considered fair use, and is certainly not an unbiased party.

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