Software giant Oracle has accused Google of spying on millions of people and developing profiles containing “intimate lifestyle details” of Google users.
The Herald Sun reports that tech giant Google has been accused by Oracle of spying on millions of users and developing profiles containing “secret interests” and “intimate lifestyle details” of users. Oracle alleges that Google misled users on the information collected and the control that they have over it.
Oracle made these allegations in a document submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) digital platform inquiry. Oracle submitted a 17-page document titled “Google’s Shadow Profile” which outlined a surveillance operation conducted by the Silicon Valley giant. The attachment stated:
A consumer sees an ad that is unnervingly, pointedly accurate. It seems to target information — so personal, so specific — that only this consumer would know the information.
Maybe the ad targets a secret interest or hobby, a special place, or intimate lifestyle details. Is the microphone on? Is the camera activated? No — but they might as well be.
In fact, Google is using massive amounts of consumer data, not all of which it discloses to consumers, to micro-target advertising. All without the consumers knowledge or consent.
The document alleges that Google uses the distance between Android phones and their wifi base stations to determine the precise location of the phones.
If a consumer connects to the same Wi-Fi access point at 9am Monday-Friday, the Wi-Fi base station likely represents the consumer’s place of work. Similarly, if a consumer connects to the same base station every day at 7pm and stays connected through the evening, the station is likely in located in the consumer’s home.
A consumer’s pattern of life — the daily rhythm of the people and places individuals spend time in the real world — combined with online web browsing, search history and a myriad of other data points creates an intimate dossier of a consumer’s lifestyle.
Oracle suggested that the ACCC investigate whether or not Google’s tracking of location data was misleading under Australian Consumer Law:
These purposes are not the primary purposes for which location information is collected. Location information — as well as other activity information that Google collects — is primarily collected to sell advertising.
Read more from the report at the Herald Sun here.