Google investigated by Australian regulator over its Android data harvesting practices

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Overall, the surreptitious data usage of Google costs Australian Android users nearly $580 million a year.

The ACCC together with the Australian Privacy Commissioner are now reviewing the revealed information.

One example of this, the letter notes, is Google's ability to share blog posts about "holiday shopping habits" through the data it collects from users' Location History.

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Australian authorities launched an investigation into Google's massive data harvest from smartphones, which reportedly allows the search giant to track users' movements even with location services turned off.

Australia's ACCC is using information from Oracle to investigate Google and Android's potential privacy issues and excess mobile data usage. The ACCC was already investigating Google and Facebook's impact on the advertising market.

While Google is open about the fact that it uses location information in apps like Maps, the company is not so forthcoming about monitoring location information when these services are not being used.

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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. Oracle also found that Google could also be gathering round 1GB of person data monthly. "This set of options is inadequate and the confusing consent process is replicated throughout Android's various settings, where location privacy is often mischaracterized or subdivided so few users could effectuate their choice to opt-out of Google's location data gathering". Moreover, the phone doesn't need to have any apps installed, or even a SIM card inserted. We are exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the privacy commissioner, he further added.

A gig of data now costs about $3.60-$4.50 a month.

Meanwhile, a Google spokesperson has told The Queensland Times that Oracle's presentation was "sleight of hand" and that users can see and control what data the Google collects and how it is being used by visiting the My Account section.

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Google, which is now being investigated as part of the ACCC's inquiry into digital platforms, has been accused of paying telco providers to send the tech company users' data. 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.

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