A recent report by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) claims that Google is allowing thousands of companies across the US and Europe to access users’ personal data through RTB (Real-time bidding)- an auction that allows companies to bid for ad spaces of their target demographic.
The report, which was written by Dr. Johnny Ryan (now dubbed “Google’s biggest headache”), identifies Google as the biggest RTB company in the world, giving RTB data access to over 4698 firms in the US and 1058 firms in Europe.
RTB (or Real-time bidding) is the way advertisers compete for ad spaces on Google’s search results. Companies and advertisers bid for ad spaces in the search results of users who are most likely to engage with their business.
Google uses users’ personal data like their location, device, browsing patterns, and more to match advertisers’ ads to their target audience. The ICCL report claims that advertisers and companies are given access to this data during RTB broadcasts, sparking serious concerns about Google’s efforts to protect user privacy.
The report identifies the US and UK to be most affected by this issue, with UK residents having their data broadcasted 462 times a day on average while US residents have their personal data broadcasted around 747 a day on average.
In the US, the daily average RTB broadcast figure is highest for the citizens of Colorado at 987 broadcasts per day, and it is lowest for the residents of the District of Colombia at 486 broadcasts per day.
In total, the average number of RTB broadcasts per day is 294 billion for the US and 197 billion for Europe (where the daily average is 376 RTB broadcasts a day per person). These figures stack up to 178 trillion RTB broadcasts a year for the US and Europe combined.
This is not the only data scandal that has emerged in recent memory, though. In May 2022, SafeGraph- a location data broker, came under fire for selling personal data of people who visited abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood facilities.
The data included each individual’s location, residence, and more. Even though, after the scandal, SafeGraph stopped selling this data, privacy issues continue to rise in the modern age.
The ad auction market is reported to have generated over $117 billion in 2021 in the US and Europe alone, and this figure is estimated to grow by $16.52 billion by 2026.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of The Sized delivered to your inbox daily.