On 12 September 2018, complaints were filed with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office and the Irish Data Protection Commissioner regarding the “wide scale and systemic breaches of the data protection regime” by Google and others in the online advertising industry (the Complaints).

The Complaints

The Complaints were submitted by Brave, an ad blocking web browser, together with the Open Rights Group and Michael Veale, a researcher at University College London. They focus on the real time bidding (RTB) systems used by Google and the wider online advertising industry, which operate to provide personalised advertising on websites.

It is claimed that there are ongoing breaches of applicable data protection laws across the industry. As an example, a wide range of personal data is gathered by the RTB system, far more than is necessary to provide targeted advertisements to individuals browsing the web. It is suggested that the information collected is then provided to a host of third parties for a range of uses that go far beyond those purposes which a data subject can understand, consent to, or object to. According to Brave, “every time a person loads a page on a website that uses programmatic advertising, personal data about them are broadcast to tens – or hundreds – of companies”.

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