Google investigated after Aussie smartphone data harvesting accusations

The Australian investigations stem from allegations made by Oracle in a report to a Government review

Google is under investigation in Australia following claims by Oracle that it collects data from millions of Android smartphones users, who unwittingly pay their telecom service providers for gigabytes consumed during the harvesting, regulators said on Tuesday.

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.

The Australian investigations stem from allegations made by Oracle in a report provided as part of an Australian review into the impact that Google, owned by Alphabet, and Facebook have on the advertising market.

Both the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the country's Privacy Commissioner said they were reviewing the report's findings.

"The ACCC met with Oracle and is considering information it has provided about Google services," said Geesche Jacobsen, a spokeswoman for the competition regulator.

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

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 carries Android - the mobile operating system developed by Google.

Transferring that information to Google means using up gigabytes of data that consumers have paid for under data packages purchased from local telecom service providers, according to the Oracle report.

The content of the Oracle report was not immediately verifiable.

Data privacy advocates said many consumers are unlikely to understand what they agreed to when signing up to use a smartphone. Industry analysts estimate there are more than 10 million Android users in Australia.

"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.

Australian telecommunications companies said they were seeking confirmation from Google on the allegations.

"We are aware of the reports in the media and we have asked Google to advise whether they are accurate," a spokesman for Australia's biggest telecom company Telsta said.

The investigations will raise more questions about the way big technology companies collect and use people's data online.

Earlier this year, social media giant Facebook apologised after web marketing firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of obtaining users' data without permission for the 2016 election campaign of United States President Donald Trump.

Oracle has its own long-running dispute with Google. The U.S. based software company is seeking royalties for Google's use of some of the Java language, while Google argues it should be able to use Java without paying a fee.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Byron Kaye and Simon Cameron-Moore)

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentAustraliaprivacyOracleGoogle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Reuters

Reuters

ARN
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?