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Virtual Reality View: A conversation with VMLY&R's Gracie Page

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Stephen Lepitak
Editor at The Drum
Gracie Page
Emerging Technology Director at VMLY&R London

GDPR complaint blasts ‘highly intimate’ Google mental health and male impotence ad labels

GDPR complaint lifts lid on ‘highly intimate’ Google and IAB ad inferences

The full extent of ‘highly intimate data’ gathered by Google’s ad tech infrastructure has been revealed following the submission of a real-time bidding complaint under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation by a rival web browser.

Tags such as male impotence, mental health and political leanings are routinely attached to web browsers to better target them with ads. Once these connections have been made the private and highly sensitive connections are shared with third-party companies via real-time ad auctions.

This system prompted Dr Johnny Ryan of private browser Brave alongside Jim Killock, former director of Open Rights Group and Michael Veale, a data and policy researcher at University College London, to instigate legal action under the EUs GDPR legislation.

In their complaint the trio criticises what they describe as ‘widespread and systemic breaches of the data protection regime by Google and others’, offering for sale a spread of data which goes ‘well beyond the purposes which a data subject can understand, or consent or object to’.

It is hoped that the legal action will spur an EU-wide regulatory response to force Google and the Internet Advertising Bureau to redesign their systems to prevent such sensitive inferences from being drawn.

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