Location, location, location. Is Google tracking Android users' whereabouts without their permission? "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.
A spokesperson for the company replied that users had given their permission to have their data collected when they chose to use an Android handset. Oracle Australia, a branch of Oracle Corporation, recently met with members of the ACCC and claimed that Google harvests an average of a gigabyte of data a month from individual Android users. The Daily Telegraph reports that the ACCC brought in experts from Oracle for information on an inquiry into "digital platforms including Google and Facebook", particularly in regards to consumer knowledge of location data usage. This data includes location information regardless of whether a user has turned off their location or does not have a SIM card. This to help it earn more advertising dollars. Google notes, "With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored".
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.
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".
The apps, once installed, take measures to stay on the device, disappear and wipe their tracks, including waiting for hours before launching malicious activity to avoid arousing suspicion and requesting admin privileges - using the Google Play icon when doing so to feign legitimacy. Regulators found that telecom service customers are unknowingly paying for gigabytes of mobile data mined by the US tech giant.
A gig of data now costs about $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. 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.