Australia joins an ever growing group of countries that are suddenly showing concern for user privacy.
It seems that yet another government is suddenly taking an interest in user privacy and Google’s tracking of user’s movement. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently had a visit from Oracle, who educated the commission on how Google tracks users.
It is important to note, that Oracle may not have the best of intentions in this visit. Oracle has been in a legal battle over Google’s use of Oracle’s code in the creation of Google’s Android operating system.
In a post in The Daily Telegraph, there seem to be a few things of interest to the ACCC. The article focuses on how much data is being sent back to Google, which Oracle claims is roughly a gigabyte a month, and how much this would be costing Google if they were responsible for the cost. The website claims this would cost Google between $445 million and $580 million a year just in data costs.
The website also gets something quite incorrect. The article states;
Google’s privacy consent discloses that it tracks location “when you search for a restaurant on Google Maps”. But it does not appear to mention the constant monitoring going on in the background even when Maps is not in use.
Realistically, tech giants such as Google, Facebook, even Apple, are tracking users all the time. Anyone that pays even a passing interest in mobile technology or privacy issues already knows this. This has been the industry’s greatest unkept secret. These companies have done nothing to hide the fact that this is their practice. They are very open and honest about it in their terms of service and privacy statements. Unfortunately, it seems the average user, and world governments, have paid no mind to this.
While this information has made these companies millions, and the information has become invaluable to companies which advertise through their services, only now are people starting to wake up to how much personal privacy has been given up. Are these actions illegal? No they’re not. Are they deceptive? I’d say they are not as these companies have been extremely open and honest about what they’re doing. Is it right that they are doing this? No. I don’t believe so. But it will be up to users and nations to determine that this is unacceptable. We will make those decisions through our votes and wallets, and until the world is ready to give up convenience for privacy, it just won’t happen.
The ACCC is now looking at Google. The U.S. Congress recently questioned Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Nations all over the world are now interested in Facebook’s privacy practices, and Google has been under the microscope of many nations for some time. The question remains, will these investigations bear fruit? Will the public ever state that enough is enough and we want our privacy back? Only time will tell, but I’m not feeling too optimistic about it.