Sci-tech

Australia looking into claims that Google collects users' data

Australia looking into claims that Google collects users' data

"Google claims Google Location History is opt-in, but both the device and application settings on Android phones frequently pushes users into providing 'consent, '" their letter reads. "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 Telstra said. Responding to data protection concerns from Google, the spokesman for the US-based company said it required user approval to collect their data.

Now, the Australian competition and privacy regulator are investigating Oracle's claim that data from the Android devices tell the location of a user to Google, even if the location services are turned off, or even if there is no SIM in the smartphone.

The Oracle researchers said Google was using about 1GB of data from the accounts of Android phone users, snooping on users silently and collecting data for advertising purposes.

A fellow U.S. 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.

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.

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

As per the report, Oracle experts have said that consumer data gets used even if Google Maps is not in use or Aeroplane mode is switched on. For instance, using barometric pressure readings, the search giant can track which level of a shopping mall you are on. Google claims they developed "cleanroom" versions, however the lawsuit has gone on for some time and after a trip on appeal by Oracle to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in March, Google was found to have infringed upon their copyright.

In Australia, 10 million people use an Android phone, which is almost half of the population.

"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. Oracle's accusations hint that Google may not be complying with their own policies.