Oracle helping Australian government investigate Android tracking data usage

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It is being speculated that Android users in Australia cough up about $445 million and $580 million for using Google.

Blumenthal and Markey said they asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai for answers, but received a response that raised further questions about their "characterization of basic consumer protection terms". All it takes to expose users to data collection, say the letter's authors, is to allow an "ambiguously described feature" once and then it is silently enabled across all signed-in devices without an expiration date.

The claims were made by Oracle as part of evidence provided to an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigation into the internet giant, amid claims that Google is secretly tracking the movements of all Android users. 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.

According to experts from Oracle, Google collected this data to help advertisers. Moreover, the phone doesn't need to have any apps installed, or even a SIM card inserted. Fortune further reports that "Oracle also said Android devices sent Google detailed information on people's searches and surfing". For instance, using barometric pressure readings, the search giant can track which level of a shopping mall you are on.

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The voice-controlled Google Assistant, Google Play Store, Google Maps and other Google services will be added to Volvo's next-generation Sensus infotainment system which itself is based on Google's smartphone and tablet technology. 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".

"Any charges for transmission of data over a cellular connection, including any location-related data, would be governed by a user's mobile carrier plan", Google said in a statement.

A gig of data now costs about $3.60-$4.50 a month. Everyone who uses Google services must agree to these terms and conditions, but there is now a debate over whether this consent is valid. Oracle's accusations hint that Google may not be complying with their own policies.