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Oracle persuades Australia to examine Google’s data-tracking practices

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Google and Oracle have long been engaged in a range of legal battles, and now, the latest iteration is playing out in Australia, where Oracle has successfully convinced competition and privacy regulators to look into how Google allegedly tracks its Android phone users. Oracle claims that Android phones send information to Google about where their owners are located, even if location services are switched off and there is no SIM card present.

These accusations first came to light in November, and while the source of the claim was initially anonymous, the Federal Trade Commission’s chief technology Ashkan Soltani suggested that Oracle was behind the story, and had been attempting to plant this particular seed for months. And now, Oracle isn’t holding back at all. In a presentation to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the company not only claims that Android phones are sending location data to Google, but also that these devices are telling the internet giant what searches and websites users frequent.

“The ACCC met with Oracle and is considering information it has provided about Google services,” said the chairman of the ACCC, Rod Sims. “We are exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the privacy commissioner.”

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner added that it is “making inquiries with Google.”

Google, for its part, certainly isn’t backing down. “Google is completely focused on protecting our users’ data while making the products they love work better for them. Users can see what data is collected and how it’s used in one easy place, My Account, and control it all from there,” the company said. “Like many of Oracle’s corporate tactics, this presentation is sleight of hand, not facts, and given that Oracle markets itself as the world’s biggest data broker, they know it.”

“Any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a specific user,” Google added.

This legal battle will doubtless play out over the next several weeks and months, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated as we learn more.

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