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Oracle tells tales about Google data slurps to Australian regulator

At an inquiry into news and ads, of all things. Is Big Red playing a deeper game?

Oracle has “provided information … about Google services” to Australian regulators.

News Limited organs in Australia on Monday reported that Oracle staffers travelled to Australia to present at the Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) Digital platforms inquiry.

That inquiry will “look at the effect that digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content aggregation platforms have on competition in media and advertising services markets.” The probe will also “look at the impact of digital platforms on the supply of news and journalistic content and the implications of this for media content creators, advertisers and consumers.”

The ACCC told The Register “We are looking at the practices of digital platforms including Google and Facebook as part of our digital platforms inquiry.” Which we knew – Google and Facebook are prime reasons the inquiry was called into being.

But the regulator also said it “met with Oracle and is considering information it has provided about Google services” and is “exploring how much consumers know about the use of location data and are working closely with the Privacy Commissioner.”

None of which really sounds like Oracle’s concern. The company does sell data but has no advertising business to speak of.

So why has Big Red bothered?

Oracle recently won a long-running dispute with Google over the latter company’s use of Java in Android. And News Limited’s reports say Oracle demonstrated that Android devices send up to a gigabyte of month of data back to Google, the better to help it target ads.

Which sounds a little odd because uploading that volume of data would surely be noticed, especially on devices that don't have WiFi connections as mobile data is expensive down under.

The reports also said that Oracle showed its research to some media (Not The Register - Oracle recently took three weeks to reject our request for a briefing on Solaris 11.4). The company’s choice of News Limited was wise, because The House That Rupert Built has a long history of trying to take Google down a peg. Indeed, its submission (PDF) to the Digital Platforms Inquiry includes many criticisms of Google and Facebook on grounds that they need News’ content but seek to undermine it, lure away its advertisers and disrupt its relationships with readers.

An Oracle spokesperson told The Register “Unfortunately at this time we have ‘no comment’.”

The inquiry is required to deliver its final report by June 3rd, 2019. ®

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