back to article Wait, did Oracle tip off world to Google's creepy always-on location tracking in Android?

Having evidently forgotten about that Street View Wi-Fi-harvesting debacle, Google has admitted constantly collecting the whereabouts of Android devices regardless of whether or not they have location tracking enabled. Between 2007 and 2010, during the debut of its Street View service, Google gathered all the Wi-Fi network …

  1. ST Silver badge
    Devil

    Oracle tipped off the world ...

    ... to something that every single Android user that has rooted their phone already knew.

    Google's new corporate slogan: we don't need a drone to track you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

      Explains the "don't be evil" part... drones are evil

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

      you don't need to have it rooted to know that.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

        While we're bashing Google for this it's worth noting that every cell phone company knows when a phone is connected to a mast and which mast it's connected to - thus your location after two or three connect cycles.

        Pissed off that Google is doing this? Think about AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobil, Sprint, EE ... they all do it. They know who you are because they have your IMEI number which connects to your account and thus your identity.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

          Pissed off that Google is doing this? Think about AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobil, Sprint, EE ... they all do it.

          That's completely different.. As part of the service they are delivering to you - they automatically must know where you are, in order for it to work. Which is all fine and dandy. It's in their terms of service smallprint somewhere, and it's unavoidable. Although obviously they could delete all records of your previous movements, except I think they're regulated by government and required to maintain that data for a certain period.

          Google similarly do this with location services. They use your permission to turn that on as an excuse to havrvest all sorts of you personal data. Except they don't do this as a neccessary part of the service, but in order to increase their profit margins. And to be fair, to improve the service, though there are ways of doing that which would cost money that they get to avoid by harvesting your data. So if you use satnav, Google are able to add your speed of movement and location to their data - and do traffic mapping, withough paying for roadside sensor data. They also maintain their almost global map of WiFi hotspots by getting your phone to report where you've been and what hotspots it saw. Keeps their database up-to-date to improve satnav speed, almost for free. Also means they have data on exactly where you've been.

          All of those services were on if you enabled location services. Which you couldn't use maps without, and there was no way of opting out of giving that free data to Google without accepting their terms. Maybe recent updates to Android have improved this? But I doubt it.

          Still, even that is fine. If you care, you know what you're getting. You can avoid Droids, or turn location services off except when you need mapping - and it's all in the privacy smallprint somewhere.

          This, on the other hand, isn't covered by the privacy policy or part of the workings of the service, and so is illegal, as it's in breach of data-protection laws.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

            "All of those services were on if you enabled location services. Which you couldn't use maps without"

            It's perfectly possible to use Maps without location services. I do it all the time. Maps prompts me to turn it on, and I say No, Thank You.

            Of course if I want Maps to pinpoint my current location then I have to enable location services, but that's obvious.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

              David Nash,

              The phone has a fucking satellite receiver. It can easily pinpoint its location without sending all your data to Google. The only reason it doesn't is that Google wrote the software, to force you to make that choice.

              There should be no choice. Satnav data should always be availble in maps - location services only needs to be optionally available in order to stop apps (and Google) from slurping your data.

              That's why Google make only about 5% of their revenue from Android and almost all of their money from selling adverts and your data.

              1. David Nash Silver badge

                Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

                I ain't Spartacus: There should be no choice. Satnav data should always be availble in maps - location services only needs to be optionally available in order to stop apps (and Google) from slurping your data.

                I agree. I was just responding to the suggestion that you need location services enabled to use Maps.

                Unfortunately Google have not given us the option.

                Actually I don't know whether it's possible for an app to get GPS location data without turning on Google Location Services. I get the impression it's one switch, all or nothing, but I haven't considered it before.

                1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                  Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

                  David Nash,

                  I was just responding to the suggestion that you need location services enabled to use Maps.
                  .

                  You do. To use it properly. Google Maps isn't just any application. It's one of the core components of the software. You don't have to give dialler access permisison to the phone app, because Google don't have any other permissions hooked into that - so why's it different with maps?

                  There's only one reason why Google have crippled the maps app, unless you turn on location services. It's because by doing that, you have to agree to let Google slurp your data - and Google really, really, really want to slurp your data.

                  You can still turn location services on, and disallow access to other apps, but once on, Google get what they really want. To use your phone as a data logger in their global network.

                  Partly this is to track you personally, for advertising. And partly it's to improve the overall quality of Android and Google's services, with stuff like accurate traffic flow info, keeping the WiFi database up-to-date for faster aGPS and whatever other clever stuff their engineers can come up with.

                  So it's not all about Google evilly cackling away in their bond-villain lair. But I think they've gone too far by linking a global online advertising and data monopoly with a smartphone monopoly. They've earned both those monopolies by being better, in important ways, but the downside of being a monopoly is that society gets to decide what you're allowed to do with it. And I think Google need bringing down a peg or two. The kind of arrogance and disregard of both the law, and their users' reasonable privacy expectations, shows that they need a good regulatory kicking.

                  1. David Nash Silver badge

                    Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

                    @I ain't Spartacus

                    Well 90% of the time that I "use maps" I have location turned off. That's because I normally use it to find a place, look at roads, or a route. You only need location turned on if you want it to show you where you are, or use it as sat nav. Since I normally know where I am and normally use my car's sat nav, I don't need Maps to do so.

                    So you don't need location turned on to "use Maps properly"...unless you have defined "properly" to mean "with location turned on".

                    I'm happy to accept that for some users, they need Maps to tell them where they are and hence would have to turn on location services.

              2. Yavoy

                Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

                And if Google wasn't able to make money off Android indirectly,they would charge for it, OEMs wouldn't use it, every OEM would have their own platform, and apps would be impossible to write for a reasonable number of phones.

                I believe we all benefit this way.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

                @I ain't Spartacus

                "...almost all of their money from selling adverts and your data"

                Selling Adverts: Tick

                Selling your data: ?

                That's quite a bold claim, I have never heard of Google selling your data, I could be wrong but I've also never heard it reported or seen it offered for sale. Is there any evidence for this, as it would also seem a poor business model when they can make more money by specifically not selling it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

            The fact that they get data to improve their service for free isn't fair to complain about. After all you are using their services for free, and if it wasn't a win - win situation neither you or they would do it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

              > The fact that they get data to improve their service for free isn't fair to complain about. After all you are using their services for free, and if it wasn't a win - win situation neither you or they would do it.

              I am going to come to your house every weekend, cut the grass and make a barbecue on your garden with all my friends. I get to enjoy the party, you get a tidy lawn. It's a win-win situation.

              Oh, so you did not actually want me to cut your grass?

        2. Rainer

          Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

          > Pissed off that Google is doing this? Think about AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobil, Sprint, EE ... they all do it.

          But they don't know as much about me as Google does.

          That's the problem with the Big G: once it slurps up everything in your life, it becomes a very powerful target. Not for hackers or crackers but for governments around the world.

          There's a reason Apple anonymizes as much data as possible they get from their users - they know governments are greedy.

          And before everyone chimes in with: "It's all according to the law...etc.bla.bla". Yes, it is, sort of. In Europe. But what if you travel to Turkey and the government there wants to know your search-history?

          And maybe you set next to some guy in the metro they don't like?

          And maybe you have a friend that happens to be a Kurd? That could get very interesting.

    3. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

      Please elaborate - how does rooting your phone automatically tip you off about continuing surveillance? Is there any actual root user who goes and blacklists system services (just for the heck of it presumably, unless you don't actually need your phone to, you know, actually work) or is the presumption that all root users are watching wireshark at all times?

      1. ST Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

        > Is there any actual root user who goes and blacklists system services (just for the heck of it presumably, unless you don't actually need your phone to, you know, actually work) or is the presumption that all root users are watching wireshark at all times?

        I'm sorry to hear you bricked your phone. Daddy said you shouldn't play with it like a toy, and now it's borken. Maybe you can ask Mommy and see if she can get you a new phone for Xmas.

        Can you run wireshark or nmap and get the info you want without root privileges?

        Do you know why one needs root privileges for nmap or wireshark?

        Yes, some system services can be safely blacklisted. You have to know which ones.

        Do you know how to freeze a system service in Android?

        One can't stop Google's continuous tracking. And I never claimed one could.

        Thanks for commenting.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

        > Is there any actual root user who goes and blacklists system services

        Yes. Typically you would remove (and I mean actually remove, not just disable) any "services" you do not want, including all the spyware installed by Google, the phone's manufacturer, the chipset manufacturer, and possibly the manufacturers of various other components inside the phone, then you would remove all so-called "Google applications" (GApps), and then you set up a firewall to stop all those other services that are actually needed for the phone to work from sending data anywhere. This may involve replacing things like the messaging application or the dialler with third party alternatives.

        It is of course a major faff but I personally resent being part of a surveillance society that makes the KGB and the Stasi look like rank amateurs and North Korea a beacon of freedom.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oracle tipped off the world ...

      "Google claims the collection is part of an experiment to optimize the routing of messages through mobile networks."

      Which is none of Google's business, much less something Google has any control over. Routing between phones is controlled by the carriers except if an app is required to route everything through a server designated by the app writer. We call that "spying".

  2. s2bu

    WiFi too

    They do the same basic thing with WiFi too, killing your battery: https://forum.xda-developers.com/pixel-c/general/how-google-intentionally-hampers-mobile-t3596097/post72029298

    1. Fihart

      Re: WiFi too

      Presumably the answer to that is to keep wifi switched off until you need it.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: WiFi too

        Or set your phone to require your active permission to connect to wifi. Mine beeps at me when I visit our sainsbury's in a way that sounds like a message asking to connect to a wifi. I ignore it. Though it only happens when I'm in the further half of the store, away from the doors.

        So no wifi for me if I've popped in for a sandwich or a lottery ticket etc.

        1. inmypjs Silver badge

          Re: WiFi too

          "active permission to connect to wifi"

          Location services report all the Wifi APs your phone can see and GPS location if available.

          The only difference actually connecting to an AP makes is without asking permission the fuckers will also use the information from your device to geo-locate the IP address of the AP.

    2. Daniel Hall

      Re: WiFi too

      No one in that thread provided proof.

      At least read the entire thread first

      1. FIA

        Re: WiFi too

        No one in that thread provided proof.

        At least read the entire thread first

        <PING!>

        Hi,

        It looks like you're new to the internet. Don't worry, it can be daunting at first; Never fear though as help is at hand. Would like to know how to:

        • Skim read internet forums and draw a half arsed but completely incorrect conclusion.
        • Barely digest the subheading and rush straight to the comment section to get your opinion heard first. After all, who's opinion matters more than yours, no ones... that's who's! (Did you know:This is called fristing.)
        • Thinly disguise your bigotry and prejudices. (But don't worry; all are welcome, the more extreme the better! This is the internet after all!)
        • Watch porn.

        You can probably disable this popup in your internet settings, somehow. Try sending all you own to the next Nigerian prince who contacts you.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Google wanted to improve message delivery? I do believe that they mean ads as we're now into NewSpeak and thus messages = ads.

    1. 45RPM Silver badge

      I think that Messages always meant Ads in the US. Hence “And now for some messages from our sponsors”.

  4. Withdrawn

    We don't use or store the data

    Then why collect in the first place? Are we supposed to believe that they simply collect the info to immediately discard it? Makes no sense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'We don't use or store the data'

      Oh wait, our record on this has been pretty shit, hasn't it? ...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCLizTg9nWo

    2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: We don't use or store the data

      That depends on how what data you are collecting and what processes you are using to derive useful information. All Google needs, if what the article states is true about what and why, is the cell tower location derived from that data. The rest can be shitcanned immediately unless you are retaining it for quality analyses.

      Personally, using an OS provided by a company who derives revenue from any and all data collected about you to develop information to sell to a third party really shouldn't be trusted. And I say that as someone who only has Android tablets connected online.* Everything else is energy-gapped now.** Periodically I check as to what they think about my habits. They look the same as my activities everywhere else. Geek/Nerd engineer. Shocking, isn't it?

      * - IOW, Google isn't my threat model, it probably is for pretty much everyone else.

      ** - IOW, I'm getting awfully nervous about the state of the internent and connected devices. Eat my tablets. You ain't getting my computers without some serious work. Really nervous.

    3. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: We don't use or store the data

      Makes perfect sense if the NSA collected the data and Google couldn't actually care less about it apart from the fat backhanded funding.

  5. Lysenko

    Message delivery?

    I suspect this is closer to the mark (TL;DR - Google want to match your physical location to advertising whether you like it or not).

    Full disclosure: I'm an AdGuard customer and It's as essential to 21st-century internet use (IMO) as uBlock or SpamAssassin.

  6. erikborgo

    Smartphones are for dumb people

    The only Smart thing about them is how they use you.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any psychopathic dictator would love to have this sort of power. Some day it will enslave us.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Some day it will enslave us.

      Some day it will enslave us.

      We are quite far down that way already. Just look around you at all the people spending every spare minute of their lives of f***book and try to visualise a fair election if Zuk decides to run for a President.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Quartz report

    is trust based not information based, which is just as good as any misleading fake news on FB. One guy reported on quartz about this but nothing for El Reg or anyone else to review or verify. Even El Reg was only able to report "Google slurped the data regardless of whether or not location services was enabled because, according to an unnamed source cited by Quartz, the data was tied to Google's Firebase Cloud Messaging service."

    If it is tied to the Google Firebase Cloud Messaging services, then it's just 'possibly' part of google services for android 4.0+.

    But since we don't actually know the details, everything is just a random guess. We don't know if it's really part of google services. We don't know if it's a backdoor in AOSP. We don't know if it's hardware. The Quartz report reported no real information except for just trust us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Quartz report

      Indeed, its essentially Wikipedia and if you believe anything from there you are basically a marketing sponge.

      What's weird is apple do the same thing, bit nobody bats an eyelid....

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: The Quartz report

        @AC

        I’m not necessarily calling bullshit - but that’s a mighty big claim and one for which you’re going to have to provide some evidence. From everything I’ve seen on iOS, if Location Tracking is off then it’s truly Off. But if you know differently I’d be very interested to learn more. Cite away…

        1. DougS Silver badge

          @45RPM

          Don't worry, that AC won't get back to you. I've noticed that when there's bad news about Android, there will always be an AC claiming "Apple does it too", without any proof of course. I guess whataboutism isn't limited to politics (or maybe for some people Apple vs. Android is political)

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The Quartz report

      But since we don't actually know the details, everything is just a random guess. We don't know if it's really part of google services. We don't know if it's a backdoor in AOSP. We don't know if it's hardware. The Quartz report reported no real information except for just trust us.

      Firebase Cloud Messaging is the new name for Google Cloud Messaging. Most Android app notifications go through FCM (Android 8 tightens the noose even more with regards to Doze mode). The Play Services binary blob includes the FCM client. The FCM client uploads this stuff to Google. If you don't install gapps on a plain AOSP then notifications don't work because you simply don't have the client which talks to Google. It is known.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Quartz report

      "But since we don't actually know the details, everything is just a random guess."

      No, far from random. Set of questions:

      1) Does it fit into corporate policy? (i.e. conforming it or policy rewritten to conform)

      2) Is it legal? (Semi-irrelevant if #1)

      3) Is there profit to be made?

      When 1) and 3) are "yes", then it will happen. If not now, at some point and therefore claiming it happens, is far from random guess: It's inevitable logical conclusion and it being "unproven" is basically irrelevant.

      It either is done or will be done.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    Google: "It is not "location services" so it's not reporting on you. So you can't turn it off.

    And we are only using your device to build our cellphone tower map.

    Citizens, we are only doing this to help you."

    Like f**k.

    Does the Google employees manual have a New speak dictionary included at the back?

    You can bet this is going to be a battery hog.

    TBF I'm sure Google take the privacy of all that data they collect on us very seriously. After all you wouldn't want the data you've worked so hard to steal to be stolen by someone else, would you?

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Google: "It is not "location services" so it's not reporting on you. So you can't turn it off.

      I'm sure there's an English -> NewSpeak translator on Google Translate, but you need a Google internal account to access it...

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Google: "It is not "location services" so it's not reporting on you. So you can't turn it off.

      I'm sorry, what? Your cellphone tower map is getting built based on the location of cellphone towers, based on... location of cellphone towers? Because we seem to be talking about location services (therefore GPS, presumably) being turned OFF - so how would you know where the tower you sense is...?

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Google: "It is not "location services" so it's not reporting on you. So you can't turn it off.

        "how would you know where the tower you sense is...?"

        That's what I thought. I assumed that the tower has a way to tell the phone where it is.

        1. DamnedIfIKnow
          Meh

          Re: Google: "It is not "location services" so it's not reporting on you. So you can't turn it off.

          Presumably each tower has an ID.

          They just look it up and get the tower location.

          Simplest.

      2. ST Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Google: "It is not "location services" so it's not reporting on you. So you can't turn it off.

        > how would you know where the tower you sense is

        For starters, Google's Location Services isn't restricted to using GPS.

        Each and every cell has a unique worldwide identifier. Each and every phone or device has a unique worldwide identifier - it's called the IMEI.

        Each and every cell identifies and records the devices that connect to it, including carrier, IMEI and telephone number. Each and every cell tower also has a GPS transceiver. The phone or device will request and receive the GPS coordinates of the cell, from the cell.

        Each and every cell phone/device will identify itself to each and every cell that it can establish a connection to.

        If you remove the SIM card from your phone, the phone's radio will still scan for cells, and will still identify itself to the cell stations. Without a SIM, you cannot establish a connection to any carrier network, but your phone can and will be tracked and located, even without a SIM.

        Given that the phone doesn't scan for one cell only, in densely populated areas with a high cell density the precise location of your device can be triangulated, within an accuracy of a few feet.

        For example, my cell phone is currently chatting with 4 different cells in my neighborhood, although I have a carrier connection through only one of them.

        Even though you may have disabled Google's Location Services, and even though you may have removed the SIM from the phone. You can't disable the GPS transceiver on the cell towers, and you can't prevent the radio on your device from scanning for 3G/4G signals and identifying itself to the cell(s).

  10. JustSomeBloke

    Data mining gone too far?

    In the early days of Google and Facebook the companies established an understanding with users that they gave up some of their privacy in return for services.

    Since that time the ability of the companies to mine almost unbelievable levels of detail from location, association and the subject of messaging and emails, this ‘contract’ is no longer working.

    Most people seem to have little understanding of the depth and breadth of what it is that these companies know about us. I often hear people say that they don’t care but are they making that judgement with any real knowledge of what is going on in these big data platforms?

    If anyone has any kind of association or activity that they would rather keep private then carrying a cellphone means that Google knows. The level of sophistication is truly impressive and this report lays bare just one aspect.

    Quite rightly there is a lot of focus on what governments know about us but I suspect that it pales into insignificance when compared to the big social media companies.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Data mining gone too far?

      That seems a good point and may come afoul of data protection laws in the UK. As IIRC a business needs a reason to collect data... you are not suppose to blanket collect and sata mine after (as this is considered intrusion I guess same was as the google street view wifi was) though Google no doubt can think of some use case.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Data mining gone too far?

        > As IIRC a business needs a reason to collect data

        Yes, and any suitably expensive lawyer can come up with as many of those reasons as you may need.

  11. Bob Vistakin

    Just exactly why is Oracle so pissed off?

    When Google used Java for Android, Oracle was only known for their vastly overpriced but basically me-too database - as they are now, for that matter. Sun, the then-owner of Java, was put up for sale and Google spectacularly blundered by not buying it, even though they were very much in the frame and Oracle was spoken about as a relevant contender as much as, say, McDonalds. To make matters worse, Google had the cash. It's gone down as the biggest mistake they ever made.

    However, we are where we are, and have to deal with Oracle's new patent trolling business. To hear them today, you'd think they somehow had some involvement in mobile or java before all this when clearly they had neither. That must have hurt - it's like Microsoft being forced to hold their nose and go all-in with Android because of their suicide in the mobile industry. Only money, not hard work, nor innovation, has allowed Oracle this fake outrage at their "property" being violated. But this lie is constantly repeated, and in time the truth will become eroded to the point at which people may start to believe they actually did make some kind of positive contribution other than crocodile tears.

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Just exactly why is Oracle so pissed off?

      "... and in time the truth will become eroded to the point at which people may start to believe... "

      Like people bought into the whole "Don't be evil" lie, eh? Or is this the same kind of positive contribution as Google pointing out flaws in Microsoft's products instead of getting their own house in order.

      Keep drinking that kool-aid...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just exactly why is Oracle so pissed off?

        "Google pointing out flaws in Microsoft's products"

        You can't pin that on Google. Google points out the many holes in Windows to MSFT... asks them if they are going to fix it... MSFT promptly doesn't respond... Google says, alright, well we're going to tell our dev to watch out for this hole anyway.

        1. RyokuMas Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Just exactly why is Oracle so pissed off?

          "You can't pin that on Google."

          Okay, so who administers Project Zero? Who decided on the 90 day deadline? Who arbitrarily went public despite the fact that Microsoft were in the process of testing the a patch?

          Here's your smoking gun. Once again, Google making up the rules in order to try and attack the competition under the guise of altruism.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just exactly why is Oracle so pissed off?

      Despite how much Oracle deserves hate from the IT world for its business practices, it was nevertheless one of the first companies to believe in the relational database - when IBM was making so much money from its older ones it never invested much money in its researchers work.

      Hardly a "me-too" database like Postgres, for example - often more a leading product others had to copy to keep competitive.

      It has also a huge investment in Java, being one of the earlier supporters, and a lot of tools and products built around the database being written in Java since Oracle 8 (late 1998 or so) - and the database itself supports Java stored procedures since at least 2000.

      Java was one of the two reasons Oracle acquired Sun.

      Google is more known as a free rider on technologies developed somewhere else than a huge contributor - it opens only projects it needs other people to contribute hugely for its own benefit.

      It could have licensed Java, but it preferred to take a dodgy path to avoid to pay any license fee...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just exactly why is Oracle so pissed off?

        "when IBM was making so much money from its older ones it never invested much money in its researchers work."

        Wow. Just wow. You do know that IBM invented the relational database, right? Larry Ellison brags about the Oracle business plan being to take the database tech he read about in an IBM white paper and beat them to market with their own tech.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "You do know that IBM invented the relational database "

          What did I wrote? Wow, just wow, re-read the sentence you cited, what does it mean?

          Exactly that. IBM did invented the relation database, but was making so much money from its older, non relational database systems it didn't invest much in turning into a real product and commercializing its researchers work.

          System R is quite forgotten today, and was never widespread. It looks it was even developed without Codd involvement.

          Oracle and Ingres believed in that model, took the IBM researches - did I ever write Oracle did otherwise? - and brought the products to the market beating IBM which was very slow to react with DB2 - which IBM at first again tried to use to keep databases on more lucrative mainframes, while the others could be run on minis and later on PCs.

          Even IBM acknowledges the work of Oracle and Ingres: https://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/builders/builders_codd.html

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just exactly why is Oracle so pissed off?

        "Google is more known as a free rider on technologies developed somewhere else than a huge contributor - it opens only projects it needs other people to contribute hugely for its own benefit."

        Yeah, the opposite of that is true. Hadoop, for instance, is based on Google GFS. Kubernetes is from Google Borg. How would Google benefit from open sourcing a portion of the tech they already have running in their own data centers, and have been running for years? It's not like the Google engineers said "we can't figure out GFS, see if you can finish it for us". It was in prod for years. I don't think Google even runs Hadoop. They use BigTable, Spanner. That is really just Google giving things away with no payoff for them. It is good will. If they were trying to make money, they would have just created Hadoop as licensed software which you could only buy from Google.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just exactly why is Oracle so pissed off?

          Sorry, Hadoop started from a simple Google paper, not from Google code - and its developers weren't working for Google. Wikipedia reports one of the was working for Yahoo at the time.

          Kubernetes is exactly the kind of project born inside which Google needs a community to expand and maintain - it's not critical I, and it can move developers to more lucrative areas. More or less what IBM did with Eclipse, for example.

          It's never not good will, is always calculated enterprise revenues vs. costs.

        2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Just exactly why is Oracle so pissed off? @AC

          "Google is more known as a free rider on technologies developed somewhere else than a huge contributor - it opens only projects it needs other people to contribute hugely for its own benefit.".... AC

          That makes Google Phishers of Men .... and Women ..... for a New AIManKind. Although of course, all search engines providing desired content have Similar Facility for the Necessary Ability ..... with Virtual Instruction ...... and, in a Near Perfect Enough World as makes No Difference, is that a Heavenly AIdDirection.

          Is Alphabet, Eric Schmidt's Platform for Performance in such Innovative Fields, .... with Live Operational Virtual Environments and Global Operating Devices?

          Global Command Head Quarters Searches for Clarification/Confirmation/InterNetWorking Controls for Enterprise.

          Welcome to the Future, El Regers, via SMARTR IntelAIgent Services. And Fully at Your Service.

          What would you like IT to Do .... for Everyone? Paint Perfect See Scapes for Inhabitation ..... Space Colonisation? OK ‽ .:-)

          PS ... Google's ACTivity renders them a Communication Conduit for Leaderships.

    3. ST Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Just exactly why is Oracle so pissed off?

      > Oracle was spoken about as a relevant contender as much as, say, McDonalds

      Oracle still likes to think of itself as being a relevant technology company. Which they are not. They are a second-rate Mergers and Acquisitions shop, with a Patent/IP Troll law firm attached to it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So your mobile operator does this too

    Hang on a doggone minute.

    I purchase mobile service from an SP. They know which tower I'm connected to all the time. They log that info. No-one particularly screams about that because, well, they'd have some difficulty routing calls to/from you without that info.

    I purchase a mobile phone with an OS on it. The provider of the OS collects same info. Sure, it's not necessary to do so to route messages, but I do believe their claim that it would assist with network optimisation.

    Why accept the former and go ape-shit over the latter ? Let alone the fact that the latter is only possible with some degree of co-operation by the mobile SP.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: So your mobile operator does this too

      I'd have thought it's a pretty obvious case of "Render unto the mobile network the things that are the mobile network's, and unto the OS manufacturer the things that are the OS manufacturer's".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So your mobile operator does this too

      Your mobile/fixed operator is usually far more regulated than Google is. Sure, they have all your call data, but in most countries those are sensitive data and have to be properly managed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So your mobile operator does this too

        "Google is more known as a free rider on technologies developed somewhere else than a huge contributor - it opens only projects it needs other people to contribute hugely for its own benefit."

        Yeah, unless the regulation can be manipulated via some sort of political donation system. #netneutrality

    3. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: So your mobile operator does this too

      Whenever I don't feel like my mobile operator knowing where my phone is, it's understood I can just switch off my phone. It has been similarly expected the same thing should be achievable in relation to Google by the explicit choice of disabling location services - while it can be argued that this only applies to apps, the expectation used to that it applied to the OS as well, with no known statements to the contrary, considering that each time you ask Google to do anything remotely location-related, it insists it cannot do it unless you enable location services. That not being true is news indeed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So your mobile operator does this too

        Some would say if you cannot take out the vattery you cannot be certain. If it has a sim it runs the sim is and accepts any commands silently sent to it vua sms... though presumably bery limited in scope as to it's utility... it is there though.

      2. Paul Chambers

        Re: So your mobile operator does this too

        Whenever I don't feel like my mobile operator knowing where my phone is, it's understood I can just switch off my phone.

        Can you? I'm curious, and have been for a while. I know that you can press the power button, and the screen goes black, but in these days of enforced non-removeable batteries I'd be very surprised if your phone is ever really "off". What you mean is, you don't know what it's doing, because nobody has told you.

        I know mine is on, because it senses the usb cable being attached, and displays the level of battery charge.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So your mobile operator does this too

          Yup. Only way to make a phone really, really off, is to remove the battery.

          Oh, what a happy coincidence for spies and/or Google: You can't remove the battery.

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: So your mobile operator does this too

      And now thanks to the FCC the phone company as ISP is also allowed to read all your network traffic to push ads to serve you better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So your mobile operator does this too

        "And now thanks to the FCC the phone company as ISP is also allowed to read all your network traffic"

        Exactly. That's what I don't get about these comments. The ISPs routinely do things that are much worse... no one gets excited.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: So your mobile operator does this too

          Well, they do where you are but that's not an excuse not to call out Google.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So your mobile operator does this too

          There is this 'selling your location' aspect. ISP, by current rules, can't do that legally while Google makes their living on it.

          That's the difference. Also: Phone carrier kind of _has to know_ where my phone is in order it to work: There's no real reason for Google to know it, ever.

          So why Google insists in knowing that so much you can't ever even disable that information collection? Just for money.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So your mobile operator does this too

      " The provider of the OS collects same info. Sure, it's not necessary to do so to route messages,"

      False: It's not necessary for anything at all except selling and privacy intrusion.

      Anf Google lies about that, too.

      Remember that for a phone company it's a major crime to sell/give/reveal that information to anyone. For Google it's way of living.

      That's the difference and that's why people are so pissed to Google. Simple, eh?

  13. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Meanwhile in other news…

    Oracle has been redrafting its contracts to be fairer to customers. Oh no, it isn't.

    As long as Google is not transmitting personally identifiable data from the users then I don't think there is much of a case here.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Meanwhile in other news…

      Google have nothing apart from your location... your Google account ID... all the data used by services associated to that account ID... and the other Google account IDs that are normally near you... Nothing personally identifiable at all.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile in other news…

        Google have nothing apart from your location...

        Sure, but I was referring solely to the address of the cell masts. Anything else is GDPR relevant and Google is smart enough to want to avoid any potential turnover-based sanctions.

        But mobile phone companies might start to worry about what Google might do with all that telemetry: knowing where the masts are and how many people are in any particular cell at any time. Google's already shown that selling advertising is not the only business it wants to be in.

  14. fandom Silver badge

    Google Maps Timeline

    It's great that Oracle has done this, after all receiving a mail from Google with the data of where you were last month is too subtle for most people.

    Although I have to admit, that the first time I got it I was kind of disappointed that it didn't really tracked me that well.

  15. DougS Silver badge

    Their explanation is a lie

    They claim it is "part of an experiment to optimize the routing of messages through mobile networks", but a phone's OS has NOTHING to do with how cellular traffic is routed. That's entirely up to the carrier.

    I'm with the guy earlier in this thread who suggested it is/was related to targeted advertising. They want to know where you are to better target ads at you, and location services being off was getting in the way of Google's profit. Maybe they weren't saving the information, since it would only be needed at the moment to deliver the best ads to you (i.e. if you are near ice cream shop A, you get their ad, whereas if you are near coffeeshop B you get their ad) but it still is against the user's wishes if they've disabled location services.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Their explanation is a lie

      "a phone's OS has NOTHING to do with how cellular traffic is routed. That's entirely up to the carrier."

      They are trying to find ways of making Fiber work to compete with the carriers. That could be it.

      The lack of proportion is what bothers me about these complaints. The carriers actively steal from everyone reading this by enforcing their duopoly, in the US. The cost of overpriced phone bills bothers me. Google, maybe, tracking location so they can, maybe, serve me relevant ads doesn't not bother me at all. I don't turn off the gis services. I want more relevant ads as opposed to ads that are not relevant. The idea that Google is tracking *you* out of their two billion users for some nefarious purpose is crazy. You think a lot of yourself if you think Google, as opposed to software, is going out of their way to follow your movements.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Their explanation is a lie

        Google doesn't have to care about following YOU individually if they log your movements. Then they can give that information silently to the various TLAs, or make it available upon demand, or have lax security so that it is stolen from them without their knowledge.

        You might be one of those "if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about" people, but you might think differently if someday they start using it to form lists of suspects by looking at the people who were in a certain area(s) at a certain time(s) and take them in for questioning on that basis.

        Basically you're making excuses for Google because you think targeted ads are somehow "better" than non-targeted ones. Why? The only possible reason is because advertising works on you, and you will buy something you see advertised for that reason alone. Otherwise why would you care whether the ad is for a breakfast place near you and you like pancakes, versus for a steak place two hours away and you're a vegetarian.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Their explanation is a lie

          "if someday they start using it to form lists of suspects by looking at the people who were in a certain area(s) at a certain time(s) and take them in for questioning on that basis."

          IF? That's already happening in real life.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Their explanation is a lie

        "The idea that Google is tracking *you* out of their two billion users for some nefarious purpose is crazy. "

        They are tracking _everyone_, including *you*. Which part of that is too complicated?

        I see dangerous lack of understanding how spying works at individual level. Ref: Stasi.

  16. Jim 59

    Some of us stay away from Google as far as reasonably possible. I don't use Chrome or Gmail, always try to switch off "location" in Android (!), always use sites like Google maps, search & Youtube in the browser, and avoid installing the dedicated app if possible.

    It's rather like having a nosy neighbour who spies on you through a hole in the garden fence. You block up the hole, so he drills another, so you fill that one in, and he drills a third, and so on and so on. Occasionally he will give you a free gift like a nice fruit basket. Under the fruit you find a microphone, hidden camera, little LED flashing...

  17. DougS Silver badge

    About this "Oracle has been shopping this around for five months" thing

    Would it really be that hard for a company Oracle's size to have difficulty getting a story like this in the press? Heck, they could send it to El Reg, and assuming they provided some proof or a way to independently verify it, El Reg would be happy to have a scoop. The same would be true of many tech news sites, bloggers, etc.

    Was Oracle trying to get this info out there without it being known it was coming from Oracle? If so, I guess they've failed since that's being reported. But why would they care? Obviously they have a lot of enmity towards Google over Android, so why not be public about it? If they found something Google is doing and can give them a black eye in public, shouldn't they like that? Or better yet, if Google was using this information for profit (via better targeted localized ads) making it public and causing Google to pull it would cost them money.

    Something here doesn't add up, I don't believe Oracle would struggle for months to get a story like this out there. Unless they are more incompetent than I'm giving them credit for, I suppose...

  18. ForthIsNotDead
    Devil

    Physical switches

    First smartphone manufacturer to provide PHYSICAL switches that allow me to switch my wifi and gps on/off gets my money.

    It's as simple as that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Physical switches

      Agreed. I'd also like a laptop that comes without a camera, speaker, wifi or bluetooth. Those can be added as peripherals easily enough. An RJ45 connector and a bit of Cat 6 to get ja' goin' and the others in the laptop bag would be ideal, imho.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Physical switches

      This made me remember the idea of smart phones being built in blocks that you could interchange and add to. I wonder whatever became of that idea. I, personally, thought it was a great idea.

  19. Alex Fielder 1

    Isn't this tracking how Google knows that there are traffic problems nearby? I thought they had made that public knowledge years ago? Why is this being made a big deal now; I for one welcome knowing before I AM traffic that there is a slow-down in the traffic ahead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is not that.

      Read the article. It is not the maps tracking.

  20. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Is there a name for the act of moving your location ...

    to spell words on a map ? GeoOrthpgraphy ? GeOrthography ?

    Because we could all spend a few hours and draw a route to tell Google *exactly* what we think of them.

    (p.s. 5-eyes .... are you 100% sure that bad guys aren't doing this already ? Maybe you need to go back over all that geodata you've got and re-analyse it for patterns that spell words - or draw pictures)

  21. Steve Graham

    LocationUpdaterService

    When my phone boots, there's a Google Play Store process running called "LocationUpdaterService". If I leave it running, it eats battery. However, if I kill it, it stays dead.

    I normally have wifi turned off to save power, and mobile data turned off to save money, so it can't be sending data to Google UNLESS it saves it up for when I do actually use Play Store or whatever.

  22. sabroni Silver badge

    Google

    Bunch of Cunts

  23. Triumphantape

    Radio opaque bag

    Keep a radio opaque bag in your car (or just on you) and slip the phone into it when you go somewhere.

    I know a lot of you can't bear to off-line for a few minutes to an hour or so, but there are solutions to these self assigned problems.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google is the retail arm of the NSA

    That is all.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Google is the retail arm of the NSA

      The more worrying part is that the NSA is the government arm of Google

      There is no conflict of interest: What's good for Google is good for America

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Google is the retail arm of the NSA @Yet Another Anonymous coward

        There is no conflict of interest: What's good for Google is good for America ... Yet Another Anonymous coward

        The problem that plagues America though, is that Google is Lacking Performance/Super Application of Learned Knowledge.

        That is one black hole of a systemic vulnerability for colossal exploitation resulting in further expansion and capitalisation of ...... well, such as would be classed and traded as New and/or NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Product.

        Uncle Sam could then turn himself inside out comparing/confessing/confusing/professing it to be an Almighty FSB Program.

  25. Lorribot

    "Android has been revised to no longer phone home"

    It may well have but what version of Android do you have to be on to have got that update given how infrequantly most phones are updated?

    I find Google blase about their relationship with their customers and somewhat cavalier with their data.

    At some point we will sure be looking over teh precipiece, it just needs enogh people to relise they are being abused by a faceless corporation and decent alternative to to their product. Its shame there is only Android and iOS as they are not a good choice, maybe/hopefully something wil come out of left field.

  26. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Google aren't the worst here..

    Nearly all the advertising companies do this, and more. They often phone home with all sorts of stuff, whether you like it or not. I'm sure they are breaking EU laws.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't like that this is all an Oracle ploy to dig up dirt on Google bc Oracle was not able to essentially make Android an Oracle licensed product. Propaganda.

  28. anoco

    Now I get it why I keep seeing the location app turning itself on and back off every once in a while.

    I think it's time to start marketing that tin foil phone case. So here it is my first draft;

    "Keep your boss, your wife and Google at bay with the new Tin Phoil! No need to keep turning the phone off in order to have privacy. No more phone calls without an appointment. And no more worries about who is paying for the radiation studies. Tin Phoil will keep you safe and silent."

    Off course Apple is going to sue me saying they had this idea before by just having their sheeple hold their phone wrong.

  29. Marshalltown

    Getting the location of the cell tower?

    When a cell tower is planned the desired location is fixed to a high degree of precision - less than a meter IIRC. That location is fixed with an accuracy of about 1.3 mm in latitude, but the longitudinal distance will vary with distance from the poles. The locations are public knowledge (at least in the US).

  30. Tim99 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    They would

    "Google claims the collection is part of an experiment to optimize the routing of messages through mobile networks."

    Mandy Rice-Davies applies...

  31. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Not surprising.

    Android takes every possible opportunity to make you turn on tracking, and once on make you go though a lot of hassle to turn it off again. I'm sure the vast majority have it on constantly.

    It's a massive battery drain too, unfortunately.

    And then we have the apps that requires access to everything on the phone, no matter how trivial the app is.. Android is a bit of a shambles.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Just checked my own phone, and of course Location was on... If an app could turn it on, and off once you don't use the app that would help, but Google doesn't want that.

  32. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Just the tip of the Melting Google Niceberg

    Friend or Foe? Who be your support and would be partners is a telling tale.

    amanfromMars replying to Dirtnapper Nov 24, 2017 3:24 AM [1711240824] says on http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-24/what-makes-googles-eric-schmidt-so-afraid-and-what-should-he-be-afraid

    What the Bilderbergs want, is what Ol' Schmidty will deliver. ..... Dirtnapper

    In the past that might have been reasonably expected, Dirtnapper, nowadays though is it always going to be a battle where the aggressor element is destroyed because of its ignorance and arrogance in things as they now are.

    To imagine that things have not fundamentally changed today with all of this new fangled and entangling virtual technology at our fingertips, is a sure sign of at least a lack of intelligence and can even signify a descent into madness whenever the fight is to deny knowledge rather release it.

    Do any of those caps fit Ol' Schmidty/Alphabet?

    If one doesn't learn from one's own mistakes and missteps is one bound to fall foul of their repercussions and consequences, and they can be fatal/terminal.

    It is the enigmatic conundrum, is it not, to be able to know so much about everything and everyone and yet to be so disabled and/or unable to do anything really creative with IT. Not at all smart and more likely quite epically stupid would be the answer to explain all of that, methinks.

  33. Tail Up

    Rule Nr What?

    Ha. Location. Add distant robo-analytic intrusion and constant, sleepless presence of an AI agents in your life. No more limitation in the human operator resources - you pay the ticket for your own personal "spy" aboard.

    Are we still playing footsies with these distant phone-payment systems, fcuck-cable battery chargers and NFC functioning? Are we just trying to bear down the GOOG capitalisation, or really want to search the light of THE truth (mwahaha) with the help of a torchlight of a clear vision of the "problem"?

    Moneybags want to know that the stability of the Body is controllable. And it will be controllable, to some programmable extent, while they can control the parameters and quality of the "blood cells" carrying money via its veins - banks and digital payment systems to shops, fabric, and all kind of traffics and back, in material form, to a carved in stone circle of acceptants.

    Devices. Not only Code matter (-;

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      No Hard or Fast Rules for InterNetworking Phantoms and Dark Web Knights of the Cyber Realm

      Howdy Tail Up,

      How's it hanging with you. All well and good I trust.

      Moneybags are realising and terrorised by the fact that new bodies in control, and there are collections of them in command, program themselves quite perfectly well enough to be practically outstanding and virtually untouchable ...... and although they can be stable, are extremely volatile and can choose to be overwhelmingly unpredictable too.

      Such are features in their programs. To imagine, presume or assume that they be faults or vulnerabilities/systemic bugs for unwarranted exploitation, is a road to nowhere which occupies useless fools who be useful tools.

  34. Sssss

    Really, then what about my mobiles wifi turning on and off everytime I turn my cellular data on (or was that start the phone. Will have to look at that again). Seems a lot happening.

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