Australia looking into claims that Google collects users' data


"This allows it to know where a device is connecting or attempting to connect without using the phone's location service". That's how great some its products are.

Facebook's massive Cambridge Analytica scandal brought to light the treasure trove of information internet companies collect. Europe's GDPR law, which is supposed to better protect user data, is another major event of the first half of the year, as it brings renewed attention on user data and privacy.

Google's privacy consent discloses that it tracks location "when you search for a restaurant on Google Maps". Oracle also found that Google could also be gathering round 1GB of person data monthly. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is investigating claims that Google harvests private data from Android users. Noted security researcher and the former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Ashkan Soltani, had then opined through a tweet that Oracle may be the hidden source of the allegation: "After 5+ mo of lobbying @oracle managed to finally sell this important @google @android privacy story to the press". Industry analysts estimate there are more than 10 million Android users in Australia.

In Australia, 1 GB of data costs roughly $3.60-$4.50 a month. A different report estimated that Google tracking would generate more than 23,000 pages of data about a user every two weeks.

Transferring this information to Google means the use of gigabytes of data paid by consumers in the form of data packages from telecommunication service providers.

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.

Facebook is not the only company whose user data policies have captured the attention of a government agency.

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. For example, it doesn't explicitly mention Android devices, The Guardian notes. Google contends that they do not give out information that would personally identify a user, but is otherwise rather vague about the exact information that it does provide to advertisers.