INTERNET GIANT Google is facing its first General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) probe over how it handles personal data for the purpose of advertising.
The investigation, announced as the EU privacy legislation nears its first birthday, comes courtesy of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) which will examine how Google treats personal data at each stage of its ad-tracking system.
"The purpose of the inquiry is to establish whether processing of personal data carried out at each stage of an advertising transaction is in compliance with the relevant provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)," the watchdog said in a statement on Wednesday.
Specifically, the probe will investigate Google's real-timing bidding (RTB) system following a complaint filed by the browser company Brave in September, which alleges that the ad-auctioning system constitutes a data breach under GDPR rules by revealing personal data to third-party companies.
"Every time a person visits a website and is shown a 'behavioural' ad on a website, intimate personal data that describes each visitor, and what they are watching online, is broadcast to tens or hundreds of companies," Brave's chief policy officer Johnny Ryan explained in a blog post.
"A data breach occurs because this broadcast, known as a 'bid request' in the online industry, fails to protect these intimate data against unauthorized access. Under the GDPR this is unlawful."
If Google is found guilty, the firm could be fined as much as four per cent of its global annual revenue, which would total around £4.28bn. While that's unlikely to bother the firm too much given it already pays more in fines that it does in taxes, it could also be forced to fundamentally reshape its ad-bidding system.
In a statement given to the INQUIRER, a Google spokesperson said the firm will "engage fully" with the DPC's investigation and "welcomes the opportunity for further clarification of Europe's data protection rules for real-time bidding.
"Authorised buyers using our systems are subject to stringent policies and standards," the spokesperson added. µ
Much a (dil)do about nothing
Neither the time nor the face
The tiny tweaks are coming thick and fast now
Gitting more secure