What Google does with your data

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is investigating Google, after claims that the tech giant is using customers’ data plans to secretly track their movements.

Accusations over Google using around $580 million worth of users’ data in their phone plan has the ACCC on the front foot, with the watchdog Chairman Rod Sims saying “My people are looking into it”.

Mr Sims was recently briefed by US experts from computer and software corporation Oracle, who exposed intercepted, decoded messages sent to Google from smart devices running the Android operating system.

Oracle claims that Google is draining around a gigabyte of mobile data a month while it secretly collects information to help advertisers.

This costs Australians between $3.60 and $4.50 per month, and with around 10 million Australians using the Android operating system, Google could potentially be on the hook for significant compensation.

While Google’s disclosure on privacy includes being tracked when you search for a restaurant on Google Maps, it does not seem to say anything about being tracked when Maps is not in use. In fact, the only time Google is not monitoring it users is when their phone is turned off.

According to Oracle, Google monitors your movements, combining your coordinates to see which retail stores you are near, so it can prove to advertisers which online ads have led to store visits.

“The more we get into this inquiry the more we realise there are lots of issues (around) competition and privacy,” said Mr Sims.

A spokesperson for Google said that location tracking is optional and that users can see what data is collected and how it’s used in “My Account, and control it”. YourLifeChoices has also published information about how to stop Google tracking you.

Read more at www.accc.gov.au

Did you know your data was being used in this way? Does it bother you?

Related articles:
How to avoid being tracked online
How to stop Centrelink tracking you
Gmail’s game-changing privacy tool

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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