Google faces privacy woes stemming from data handling for its online ad business

Google online ad business faces strong risks of non-compliance to EU’s GDPR.

In a development that marks a heightening of Google’s privacy woes, privacy campaigners have filed complaints to data protection regulators in France, Germany and seven other EU countries over the way Google handles data in its online advertising business.

Last month, complaints filed by privacy-focused web browser Brave in Ireland and Britain have resulted in an investigation into Google’s ad business by Ireland’s privacy watchdog.

At issue is real-time bidding, a server-to-server buying process which uses automated software to match millions of ad requests each second from online publishers with real-time bids from advertisers.

According to eMarketer, a market research firm, the online advertisement industry, is a money spinner for Google, Facebook and other online platforms and advertisers. It is expected to grow to $273 billion in 2019.

“The real-time bidding advertising system may be broadcasting the personal data of users to hundreds or thousands of companies. This advertising method clearly breaches the EU’s data protection regulation (GDPR),” said Eva Simon, a legal expert at campaigning group Liberties which is coordinating the complaints.

In 2018, the European Union introduced a landmark law, the GDPR, non-compliance of which attracts fines up to 4% of a company’s global turnover..

“Real-time bidding is used Google and many other digital advertising technology companies. It is time for them to #StopSpyingOnUs,” said Liberties.

Google now faces complaints in 7 other EU countries, including Belgium, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Estonia, Italy and Hungary.

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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