Ireland launches privacy probe into Google for personal data hoarding & trading

The Irish web privacy watchdog is investigating whether or not Google’s assortment and use of personal data on its Ad Exchange platform violates EU legal guidelines, doubtlessly placing Google on the hook for hundreds of thousands of euros in fines.

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has opened a probe into the search behemoth’s compliance with the sweeping data safety rules handed into legislation throughout the EU nearly precisely a 12 months in the past. The inquiry issues Google’s large Ad Exchange platform, which operates real-time on-line auctions through which highly-sensitive details about customers gleaned from their searching historical past is traded by firms which use it to create behavioral profiles for advert focusing on.

At difficulty is how Google retains personal data, its practices relating to transparency and minimization of data collected, and the way that data is processed. Ad Exchange auctions can contain lots of of third events haggling over customers’ personal data, attaching behavioral “tags” to their site visitors with out their data – an operation which appears to run afoul of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirement that firms receive specific consent earlier than dealing in delicate info.

The DPC might effective Google as much as four % of its world revenues or €20 million, whichever is larger, if the corporate is discovered to be in violation of the GDPR. It might additionally impose “corrective measures” on the California-based firm. Because Google’s European headquarters are in Ireland, the DPC’s determination might function a blueprint for different European data regulators wishing to levy their very own fines. French data regulator CNIL has had one thing of a head begin, fining Google €50 million for “lack of transparency, insufficient info and lack of legitimate consent relating to advertisements personalization” in January.

The Irish investigation relies on a grievance filed by digital rights organizations, together with the no-track browser Brave, final fall. Google was singled out for specific scrutiny in that grievance owing to the invasive nature of its ad-targeting classes – markers like “AIDS & HIV,” “male impotence,” and “substance abuse” are topic to particular safety underneath the GDPR. Another of Google’s ad-targeting classes, paradoxically, is “privacy points.”