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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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Apr 2021 @ 2:10am

      Re: Best Defense is a Good Offense

      "I suppose it was only a matter of time before big tech turned its guns on one another."

      As per usual where "Big Tech" is concerned you sorely lack context and history.

      Oracle has been a monopolistic plague for decades. There are web forums with twenty year old posts condemning Ellison and Oracle as the real-world analogue of Mordor.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:05am

    When you remember that Oracle and its owner(s) are big backers of Trump and the GOP, it's no wonder that they'd be using the Republican playbook (take everything you're way more guilty of and accuse your competitors of that and more--basically: lie, lie, and lie some more till the fools that buy in don't know up from down).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:19am

    hands you an L

    2nd Para

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Joe '21,000 miles an hour' Biden, 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:37am

    Oracle evil TOO doesn't make GOOGLE less evil.

    First, it's not "projection". You're the first to claim all that Google does is okay, therefore Oracle is "projecting" law-abiding good business practice? SHEESH! -- You just tacitly admitted that what GOOGLE does IS wrong, silly.

    Oracle even copied an API without a license.

    And has Amazon objected at all? -- YOU are not an agent or otherwise authorized to object, are you? No, you're just putting out feeble attack.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Joe '21,000 miles an hour' Biden, 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:37am

      Re: Oracle evil TOO doesn't make GOOGLE less evil.

      (at least with Google, you can go in and see what the company has on you and can delete much of the info).

      Oh, really? Can I can see what tracking it has on ME? HOW, without revealing identity so they can track me MORE, tagging me with "annoying critic" too? What assurance do you have that they tell you all? What assurance that -- PART -- of your info is deleted? You have ZERO way to check, couldn't even be sure with a court order and ten IT experts allowed to rummage for a year that have seen all or was actually deleted!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Joe '21,000 miles an hour' Biden, 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:46am

        Re: Re: Oracle evil TOO doesn't make GOOGLE less evil.

        Meant to include that this shows Maz utterly trusts GOOGLE, never doubts what it say. Ask yourself why?

        Then look at this graphic, right on front page of Techdirt's "sister organization" or its think tank, as Maz terms himself when he's at the very same desk writing up those boring Case Studies:

        https://copia.is/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/sponsors.png

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          icon
          Koby (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:58am

          Re: Re: Re: Oracle evil TOO doesn't make GOOGLE less evil.

          Never trust a company that used to have "Don't Be Evil" as its motto, but then abandoned it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 11:26am

            Alternatively: Never trust Blue Balls to tell you the truth, not even about himself.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 11:38am

              Re:

              Not surprised that blue, who has never once made a single accusation that wasn't projection, would start bullshitting about Oracle's projection.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Apr 2021 @ 2:14am

                Re: Re:

                ...or that Baghdad Bob, being very consistent in never getting one single fact right, now comes out swinging in favor of Oracle. Google has at least been known to bring a lot of good stuff to the table.
                The same can't be said for Oracle which has relied exclusively on shark-tank legal lock-ins and conmanship to keep their products on the market.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Joe '21,000 miles an hour' Biden, 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:38am

      Re: Oracle evil TOO doesn't make GOOGLE less evil.

      to convince regulators and law enforcement agencies

      Oracle, according to YOU, is a "person" with full rights to do so. Why are you objecting to a legal exercise of rights, in the proper way to the only people who can rein in the global monster? Isn't it because you love the global monster, are even "supported" to flak for it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2021 @ 11:44am

        Re: Re: Oracle evil TOO doesn't make GOOGLE less evil.

        We can object to literally anything. Objections aren't limited to illegal things.

        Where do you get your basic concepts about reality?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Joe '21,000 miles an hour' Biden, 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:38am

      Re: Oracle evil TOO doesn't make GOOGLE less evil.

      to rein in Google's huge search-and-advertising business.

      It's a monopoly, whether you and Nazi spook Schmidt think could be if got to 100% control. (See Raiders of the Lost Ark for the stereotypical black-suited little round glasses Nazi spook. I'm not sure that isn't actually the young Eric Schmidt.)

      Those efforts are paying off.

      GOOD! MORE! The enemy of my enemy is my friend, at least in narrow way!

      BE FINE if Oracle were taken apart, TOO, but it's not tracking EVERYONE EVERYWHERE.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:47am

        Re: Re: Oracle evil TOO doesn't make GOOGLE less evil.

        what was the middle part again

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 11:28am

        The enemy of your enemy is also your enemy. After all, Oracle would sooner stomp on your spine right after Google’s than treat you with any sense of decency or humanity.

        And you call everyone else “corporatists”…

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2021 @ 11:46am

        Re: Re: Oracle evil TOO doesn't make GOOGLE less evil.

        No, it's just doing more actual tracking than Google. So, uh, try again? Or don't. Whatever.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2021 @ 11:41am

      Re: Oracle evil TOO doesn't make GOOGLE less evil.

      You can't read, can you? Aside from being completely insane, i mean.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 10:54am

    Same projection that the squatter cartels were using against tech/rights groups around the EU copyright-corruption directive.

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20181212/07074641205/legacy-copyright-industries-lobbyi ng-hard-eu-copyright-directive-while-pretending-that-only-google-is-lobbying.shtml?op=sharethis

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 12:10pm

    Talk about the ultimate rhetorical question...

    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.

    Anyone who's been alive and paying any attention at all the last four years should be more than familiar with this tactic, in that if you're going to or are doing something questionable and you want to draw attention elsewhere you accuse someone else of doing it first.

    If your target actually is doing what you're accusing them of they have to defend their actions, which serves to normalize said actions without you getting your hands dirty, and whether they are or not if someone catches you and tries to grill you over your actions you simply act outraged and claim they're trying to change the subject to some minor thing because look at that other person/company doing something so very much worse(according to you).

    This is a well known tactic and one that's been in great use the last few years, so I'd say the question of 'what's their goal?' is mostly rhetorical at this point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bobvious, 9 Apr 2021 @ 3:16pm

    Projection - LOL

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2021 @ 3:36pm

    Oracle "phones home" with the actual full content of non-cloud databases. it does this stealthily when the network is determined to be 'idle' for long periods.

    Pretty much looks like someone's stealing other company databases.......

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      El Oscuro (profile), 25 Apr 2021 @ 8:30pm

      Re:

      As some one who has managed non-cloud Oracle databases for almost 30 years, no they do not "phone home". These days I am mostly on the red team, and have analyzed network traffic from the database. There has never been a packet sent from a database to an internet address without a developer coding one with UTL_TCP/UTL_HTTP.

      On the other hand, Microsoft does phone home, and not just Windows 10. While pen testing an internal corporate web application with an intercepting proxy using IE8 and Windows 7, my intercepting proxy (Burp Suite) picked up an out of bound request sent to https://urs.microsoft.com/. This request contained an XML payload with my entire request to the corporate app which included my userid and password. This is a straight up man in the middle attack by IE8.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 10 Apr 2021 @ 8:42am

    Cancer

    Oracle, and Ellison, are a cancerous tumor on humanity, and should be treated as such.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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