Oracle's Projection: As It Accuses Google Of Snooping On You, It Has Built A Huge Data Operation That It Doesn't Want Regulated

from the ah,-look-at-that dept

Over the last decade or so, the fight between Oracle and Google has seemed incredibly personal -- at least on the Oracle side. Of course, many have argued the main reason for Oracle's attacks on Google were to pressure the company into settling its long-running fight over the Java API -- and the Supreme Court just put an end to that -- so it will be interesting to watch whether or not the attacks continue. But there's an important point buried in all of this. Almost everything Oracle accuses Google of doing... it does itself. Often in much more nefarious ways. I mean, Oracle even copied an API without a license. But Oracle's grand projection in blaming Google for the things that Oracle actually does (in much worse ways) goes way further than that.

Late last year reports came out noting that various regulatory attacks on Google around the globe clearly had Oracle's fingerprints all over them -- including claims that Google is a disaster for persona privacy. From a big Bloomberg article:

What's less known is that Oracle Corp. spent years working behind the scenes to convince regulators and law enforcement agencies in Washington, more than 30 states, the European Union, Australia and at least three other countries to rein in Google's huge search-and-advertising business. Those efforts are paying off.

Officials in more than a dozen of the states that sued Google received what has been called Oracle’s “black box” presentation showing how Google tracks users’ personal information, said Ken Glueck, Oracle’s top Washington lobbyist and the architect of the company’s antitrust campaign against Google. Glueck outlined for Bloomberg the presentation, which often entails putting an Android phone inside a black briefcase to show how Google collects users’ location details — even when the phones aren’t in use — and confirmed the contours of the pressure campaign.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Glueck about the barrage of lawsuits. “As far as I can tell, there are more states suing Google than there are states.”

Oracle's attacks on Google have taken other forms as well, including its now infamous "Shadow Profiles" report that it has submitted to various governments, detailing claims that Google is sucking up tons of data on everyone and doing sketchy things with it.

Whether or not this is true, it kind of leaves out an important fact: Oracle is doing the same thing. And Oracle seems to be doing it in an even sketchier way. You may recall that, last summer, a sneaky data collection company BlueKai leaked tons of personal info on an unsecured server. BlueKai is owned by Oracle. Many years ago, we had been approached about using the service, which seemed incredibly sketchy because it was much more involved in building "shadow profiles" of users in ways that users had no idea about (at least with Google, you can go in and see what the company has on you and can delete much of the info).

But, it gets worse. In a new article from The Markup, it details how various "data brokers" are now bigger lobbyists in DC than many of the big tech firms, maneuvering to make sure that legislators don't cut them off from their data sources. And guess who the biggest such data broker of them all is? Yup. It's Oracle, which has spent the last few years buying up every sketchy data collector it can get its hands on.

Oracle has its own data collection arm but has also built its portfolio by buying up companies like DataRaker, Compendium, and Crosswise. The companies, which were acquired in 2012, 2013, and 2016, respectively, take data from a variety of sources. DataRaker gets data from millions of smart meters and sensors for utilities companies, while Compendium delivers targeted ads. Crosswise allows Oracle to track people across devices, claiming to process data from billions of devices every month. 

Oracle also acquired Datalogix, in 2014, which connected offline purchases to online profiles. Additionally, Oracle combines datasets from more than 75 other data brokers, which it calls “the world’s largest collection of third-party data.” 

And then when you look at how these data brokers are lobbying, you may notice that Oracle stands out way above the rest:

It kind of makes you wonder how much of that lobbying is attacking Google by claiming that Google is doing... what Oracle is actually doing in undermining privacy. And, yes, in case your wondering, the Markup notes that Google spent less than Oracle on lobbying the US government during this period (the year 2020).

None of this is to say that Google is a good player here. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about what Google does as well. But considering how much effort Oracle seems to be putting into demonizing Google's practices, and how much it's spending on lobbying, when it appears that Oracle's own strategy is to be much more abusive in secretly collecting data on everyone, it seems worth questioning just what Oracle's actual strategy here is, beyond attacking a competitor.

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Filed Under: data, data brokers, lobbying, privacy
Companies: google, oracle

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Koby (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:02am

    Best Defense is a Good Offense

    I suppose it was only a matter of time before big tech turned its guns on one another. If a company has a lot of money, but can't create a better product, then they might justify the decision to utilize cash for the purposes of lobbying and lawfare in an attempt to steal market share.

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