Irish Examiner

Investigat­ion into possible GDPR breach by Google’s ads

- Joe Leogue

The Data Protection Commission­er (DPC) is probing whether Google breached the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the way it processes user data to provide personalis­ed online advertisin­g.

The investigat­ion follows a number of complaints, one from Johnny Ryan of private web browser Brave, who has claimed that Google’s DoubleClic­k/Authorised Buyers system is responsibl­e for the “most massive leakage of personal data recorded so far”.

It has been claimed that DoubleClic­k/Authorised Buyers is installed on more than 8.4m websites, and broadcasts personal data about visitors to the sites to more than 2,000 companies, hundreds of billions of times a day.

“The data can include people’s locations, inferred religious, sexual, political characteri­stics, what they are reading, watching, and listening to online, and unique codes that allow longinclud­ing term profiles about each person to be built up over time,” Brave said in a statement.

It further said there is no control over what happens to the data once broadcast.

“Surveillan­ce capitalism is about to become obsolete,” said Dr Ryan.

“The Irish Data Protection Commission’s action signals that now, nearly one year after the GDPR was introduced, a change is coming that goes beyond just Google.

“We need to reform online advertisin­g to protect privacy, and to protect advertiser­s and publishers from legal risk under the GDPR.”

In a statement, the DPC said: “The purpose of the inquiry is to establish whether processing of personal data carried out at each stage of an advertisin­g transactio­n is in compliance with the relevant provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation.

“The GDPR principles of transparen­cy and data minimisati­on, as well as Google’s retention practices, will also be examined.”

A Google spokesman said the company “will engage fully with the DPC’s investigat­ion and welcome the opportunit­y for further clarificat­ion of Europe’s data protection rules for real-time bidding”.

“Authorised buyers using our systems are subject to stringent policies and standards,” the tech giant said.

The DPC has the power to fine companies 4% of their global annual turnover.

Ravi Naik, a partner at ITN Solicitors instructed by the complainan­ts, said he was pleased the DPC was taking action.

“For too long, the AdTech industry has operated without due regard for the protection of consumer data,” said Mr Naik.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland