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Google shares news: Australia investigates data use claims; staff protest AI project

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Google shares ended a little higher Monday amid news Oracle has shared evidence with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) showing the tech firm is illegally harvesting data from users’ Android smartphones.

Sundar Pichai’s company is also facing pressure from within and outside over its decision to partner with the US military in Artificial Intelligence testing for the sector.

Google shares closed 0.29% higher at $1,106.60. The stock has been moving broadly higher in recent weeks.

ACCC investigating Google, Facebook’s data use

The ACCC begin its investigation into Google, Facebook and other digital platform’s user data use in December 2017. The investigation is ongoing and a variety of evidence has been presented from different sources.

Of interest Tuesday, is evidence from Oracle suggesting Google is harvesting user data on Android phones. The software giant said some 1GB per month is being analysed by Google, without the users’ explicit consent.

The reason for that data analysis is to advise advertisers. However, this is reportedly being done without the clear understanding and knowledge of the users’ whose data is being harvested.

Oracle is also reported to have suggested to the ACCC that Google could also be accessing location data from the handsets. Google already admits use of Google maps location data when users are utilising the App. The tech giant’s use of location data when users aren’t logged into the map App, is less clear.

According to The Register, the ACCC said it “met with Oracle and is considering information it has provided about Google services”.

Google staff unhappy with military AI projects

Elsewhere, while some were pleased to see that Google had been awarded a major part in the US Government’s military drone project Maven, some of its staff and outside AI experts are unhappy with the development.

Indeed, three staff members are reported to have resigned in protest of the ongoing military AI project. And, almost 4,000 Google employees have signed a letter requesting the tech giant withdraws from project Maven.

In addition, hundreds of AI academics and researchers have signed an open letter to Google, titled “Google should withdraw from Project Maven and commit to not weaponizing its technology.”

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