Google and IAB ad category lists show “massive leakage of highly intimate data”, GDPR complaint claims

Male impotence, substance abuse, right-wing politics, left-wing politics, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, mental health.

Those are just a few of the advertising labels that Google’s adtech infrastructure routinely sticks to Internet users as it watches and tracks what they do online in order to target them with behavioral ads.

Intimate and highly sensitive inferences such as these are then systematically broadcast and shared with what can be thousands of third party companies, via the real-time ad auction broadcast process which powers the modern programmatic online advertising system. So essentially you’re looking at the rear-end reality of how creepy ads work.

This practice is already the target of a legal complaint in Europe, filed under the bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The real-time bidding (RTB) complaint, which was lodged last fall by Dr Johnny Ryan of private browser Brave; Jim Killock, previously director of the Open Rights Group; and Michael Veale, a data and policy researcher at University College London, alleges “wide-scale and systemic breaches of the data protection regime by Google and others” in the behavioral advertising industry.

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