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Citizens’ rights organisations in nine European countries have complained to the privacy authorities in their country about Google’s advertising policy. According to the organisations, the problem revolves around real-time bidding.

Real-time bidding is a server-to-server buying process that uses automated software to link millions of ad requests per second from online publishers to real-time ad bidding. According to the organisations, this system may expose users’ personal data to “hundreds or thousands of companies”, according to Eva Simon, a legal expert at civil rights organisation Liberties, who coordinates the complaints.

According to Simon, this advertising method violates the European privacy legislation GDPR, which came into force last year. Organisations in Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, France and Germany submitted complaints to the privacy authorities. Google has not yet responded to the complaints.

Previous complaint

It’s not the first time there’s been a complaint about the advertising system. The team behind the Brave-browser complained to the authorities in Ireland and the United Kingdom last year about the bidding system.

Brave argues that the code for the place where ads appear collects large amounts of user data, which is then forwarded to the advertising platform for real-time bidding. However, the user does not explicitly consent to the collection of information, which in Brave’s opinion constitutes unlawful access.

The information includes what a user is currently reading or viewing, location information, IP address and device information. The information may also include sexuality, ethnicity, political opinions and other personal details. Brave’s complaint triggered an investigation by the Irish privacy watchdog last month.

Large industry

The online advertising industry generates a lot of money for Google, Facebook and other platforms. The market is expected to grow to 273 billion dollars this year.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.