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Oracle reportedly behind the damaging Google location data news

According to a new report, Oracle is responsible for passing along information that was used in a damaging article targetting Google over location data.

Published onDecember 6, 2017

We recently reported on Google’s practice of recording location data of Android users. Google was continuing to track users even after they had turned off location services. This is obviously a pretty big invasion of privacy, and many users were upset with Google over the tracking. It has since acknowledged the error, apologized, and stopped the practice.

But, do you know how those facts came out? Would it shock you to know that Oracle was behind the story? Let’s start at the beginning.

Google and Oracle are engaged in battles on multiple fronts: the courtroom, Washington D.C., and in the press. The two massive technology companies have been going back and forth for the better part of a decade. The issue stems from Oracle’s contention that Google stole Java code and used it to create Android.

It even purchased billboards mocking the search giant

The cloud computing giant sued Google for $9 billion and the two companies have been sparring in court for the last seven years. Google has been successful in defending itself for the most part, but another appeal is about to kick off. Part of Oracle’s offensive is outside of the courtroom. Oracle has taken opposing positions from Google on legislation, even if the legislation doesn’t affect it. It has also tried to get regulators in both the U.S. and Europe to sanction Google for anti-competitive practices, and it even purchased billboards mocking the search giant.

Now, details are emerging that points to Oracle being behind the article detailing Google’s location snooping last month. Quartz was the first to report that Google was tracking its users’ locations. Now, Recode is reporting that Quartz got some of its information from Oracle. According to Recode, Oracle is in the midst of a year-long “cloak-and-dagger, take-no-prisoners lobbying campaign” against Google. Its aim is to damage Google as much in the political and financial arenas as in the courtroom.

The report from Recode backs up a tweet from Ashkan Soltani, ex-Chief Technologist for the Federal Trade Commission. According to Soltani, Oracle had been shopping the story for more than five months. Since that tweet, he has not expanded on his statement or responded to requests for comment when contacted by The Register.

After 5+ mo of lobbying @oracle managed to finally sell this important @google @android privacy story to the press
— ashkan soltani (@ashk4n) November 21, 2017

When Recode reached out to Oracle for comment, Ken Glueck, Senior VP for government affairs, denied that the company was on an offensive against Google.

Google is doing an excellent job of inflicting ‘political [and] PR pain’ on themselves and needs no help from us. We take positions based on the merits, based on our interests, and based on the interests of our customers without thinking much about Google.

Glueck did not address Quartz’s story directly, but he did acknowledge that Oracle has, “substantial technical expertise on Android because Google stole Android from us.” Google did not respond to a request for comment from Recode.

Google has been at war with other tech giants throughout the years. The most notable of the bunch may be Microsoft, who it made peace with last year. But, the battle with Oracle doesn’t look like it’ll be over anytime soon. Not only are the companies still going through the appeals process, but it doesn’t sound like Oracle is ready to let go of issues with Google either.

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