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

There are about 10 million Android users in Australia, who would be more affected than iPhone users.

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

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been approached by Oracle, and they have been informed that Google is unethically syphoning off data from Android users' phone, and spying on them.

Like the US senators, Australian regulators question whether consumers have given valid consent for the extent of Google's information collection. All this information it shares with the advertisers to report how online ads have helped in increasing store visits. "We use various technologies to determine location, including IP address, GPS, and other sensors that may, for example, provide Google with information on nearby devices, Wi-Fi access points and cell towers", Google states in its privacy policy which is applicable to all the services offered by Google and its affiliates including YouTube, Android devices and services offered on other sites. "This allows it to know where a device is connecting or attempting to connect without using the phone's location service". Google notes, "With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored".

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

The Australian investigation is linked to allegations made in an Oracle report about the impact of Google and Facebook on the advertising market. While you can survive the web without Facebook, there really is no internet without Google.

Though the search giant says that it tracks user data only after a user has consented, all Android users know how such consent is obtained.

"Google should report on all data collected from consumers and ask for permission before any data is forwarded to third parties", said Australian Communications Consumer Action Network CEO Teresa Corbin.

"The ACCC met with Oracle and is considering information it has provided about Google services", said Geesche Jacobsen, a spokeswoman for the competition regulator. Further, referring to My Account in the settings, it says that users have full control over their data and how it can be used.

The statement said: "Google is completely focused on protecting our users' data while making the products they love work better for them". However, at the time, the search giant assured that they would soon end such practices.

Vanessa Coleman