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This way, Google tracks Android users without using the phone's location service, the software company claims.

Oracle further claims that this data transfers to Google, which could be up to gigabytes per month, and is being paid by the users themselves.

While Google is open about the fact that it uses location information in apps like Maps, the company is not so forthcoming about monitoring location information when these services are not being used.

Australia has launched an investigation into the matter following a report by Oracle on the impact of Google and Facebook on the advertising market in the country.

A spokesperson for the company replied that users had given their permission to have their data collected when they made a decision to use an Android handset.

Oracle experts reportedly said that only on turning off an Android device prevents the tracking.

Data privacy advocates said many consumers are unlikely to understand what they agreed to when signing up to use a smartphone. "We are exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the privacy commissioner", said Geesche Jacobsen, a spokeswoman for the competition regulator.

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"In the case of mobile devices, any charges for transmission of data over a cellular connection - including any location-related data - would be governed by a user's mobile carrier plan".

A gig of data now costs about $3.60-$4.50 a month.

"Google has an intimate understanding of personal lives as they watch their user's seek the support of reproductive health services, engage in civic activities, or attend places of religious worship", Markey and Blumenthal write.

The report said a Google spokesman had refused to answer specific questions, without detailing what the queries were. Oracle's accusations hint that Google may not be complying with their own policies.

Earlier this year, social media giant Facebook Inc apologized after web marketing firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of obtaining users' data without permission for the 2016 election campaign of United States President Donald Trump. Everyone who uses Google services must agree to these terms and conditions, but there is now a debate over whether this consent is valid.

Symantec goes to give an example of "Android.Reputation.1" malware which appears to be "hidden in at at least seven apps in the U.S".


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