As a result of investigations by various authorities, Google is going to adjust its own advertising campaigns, which should improve the privacy of Internet users. In May, the Irish Data Protection Supervisor launched an investigation into personal data processed by Google in online advertisement auctions.
In the auctions, Google uses real-time bidding (RTB), a technology whereby advertising space on websites is sold to advertisers via an automated auction. Every time someone visits a website and sees a targeted advertisement, information about what he or she reads or looks at is sent to companies. These are also called “bid requests”.
Advertising companies send this information to many companies to allow advertisers to bid in order to show advertisements to their visitors. This will enable companies to advertise in a targeted way. The bid requests that make this possible often contain all kinds of personal information of internet users, such as what the visitor reads or looks at, location information, information about the device used, unique tracking ID and ip addresses.
The Irish Privacy Commission’s investigation should determine whether the processing of personal data at each stage of an advertising transaction complies with the GCAA. Although the investigation is still ongoing, Google today announced an amendment following consultation with the authorities. As of February 2020, the bid requests that Google sends to advertisers will no longer contain content categories that make it clear what kind of page or website someone is visiting.
Google states that the measure will make it more difficult for advertisers to target their advertising more effectively. Also, the tech company says that it will continue to consult with regulators, including the Irish, about the advertising auctions. Among others, the Personal Data Authority and regulators in Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, United Kingdom, and Poland were asked to take action against the auctions.
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