Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Google Accused of 'Snooping' and Misleading Consumers

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Google Accused of 'Snooping' and Misleading Consumers

Article excerpt

Byline: John Rolfe

GOOGLE has been accused of spying on millions of Australians by building profiles containing "intimate lifestyle details" such as home and work addresses

Computer technology company Oracle also alleged Google may have broken the law by misleading consumers about true motives for snooping - to target and sell ads - and the control they have over their own data.

Oracle levelled the claims in a document provided to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's digital platforms inquiry which the regulator made public on Tuesday along with 26 other submissions including News Corp Australia's, which urged the ACCC to recommend to the Government that Google be split up.

If News made the most dramatic submissions, Oracle made the most disturbing. It included a 17-page attachment called "Google's Shadow Profile" setting out a sinister surveillance operation of phone owners by the $1.2 trillion company.

"A consumer sees an ad that is unnervingly, pointedly accurate," the attachment began. "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.

"Google is using massive amounts of consumer data, not all of which it discloses to consumers, to micro-target advertising. All without the consumer's knowledge or consent."

Oracle claimed shadow profiles contain precise location information of Android users by capturing how close their phone is to Wi-Fi base stations and at what time.

"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. …

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