The Irish regulator is probing how Google uses sensitive data.

Google has been accused again of playing fast and loose with users’ personal information — on both sides of the Atlantic.  A Financial Times article reports on how Google is secretly using hidden web pages that feed the personal data of its users to advertisers, circumventing EU privacy regulations that require consent and transparency. A smaller rival Brave discovered the practice and reported it to the Irish data regulator, while accusing Google of “exploiting personal data without sufficient control or concern over data protection”.

A Brave executive monitored his data being traded on Google’s Authorized Buyers, the world’s largest real-time advertising auction house. He found that Google had labelled him with an identifying tracker that it fed to third-party companies that logged on to a hidden web page.

Lex says digital advertising auctions seem to violate Europe’s data protection law by their very nature: “In the time it takes a website page to load, a user’s information may already have been disseminated to companies bidding for a spot on that page. Those milliseconds give the user no time to find out exactly what data are being used and where it is being sent in real-time bidding.”

Meanwhile, in the US, the Federal Trade Commission has just announced a $170m settlement with Google and its YouTube subsidiary over its illegal collection of children’s personal information. YouTube had tracked underage users and failed to notify them or obtain parental consent.

Source:  Financial Times (for members internal use only)