Australia’s ACCC is using information from Oracle to investigate Google and Android’s potential privacy issues and excess mobile data usage.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (or ACCC) is Australia’s equivalent of the FTC in the United States, regulating business practices to protect the consumer and promoting healthy competition among businesses. The Daily Telegraph reports that the ACCC brought in experts from Oracle for information on an inquiry into “digital platforms including Google and Facebook,” particularly in regards to consumer knowledge of location data usage.
For context, Oracle has actively been in court with Google for more than 5 years over whether Android’s usage of Java was considered fair use, and is certainly not an unbiased party. The case was just recently appealed and the U.S. Court of Appeals found in favor of Oracle.
Oracle played a numbers game with the ACCC, claiming that an Android phone, on average, uses one gigabyte of mobile data per month for tracking data. With one gigabyte of data costing as much as A$4.25 and over 10 million Android devices in Australia. Oracle claimed that Google is responsible for approximately A$500 million in data usage. Oracle also claimed that the majority of this location and tracking information was used for advertising purposes, and could not be disabled without turning the phone off completely.
The ACCC does not seem to be taking Oracle’s claims at face value, but is “considering information it has provided about Google services.”
Google’s response to Oracle’s claims shows that the war between the two companies is far from over:
All location sharing on Android is opt-in by the user. We provide users with notice and control over the collection, sharing and use of location in order to provide a better mobile experience on Android devices. Any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a specific user.
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.
Honestly, it’s hard to say how truthful either company is being in this instance. If the Australian government is going to take this investigation seriously, I sincerely hope they get information from an unbiased third-party.