Home Technology Regulation Google creates compliance mess by delay on advertising standard

Several companies which are part of an advertising technology consortium have been left exposed to fines after Google delayed joining the group which was trying to take steps to comply with the European General Data Privacy Regulation that took effect on 25 May.

Reuters reported that six individuals who are part of the group had informed it about Google's delay in joining up, adding that those who were at the greatest risk of fines were owners of websites and apps that are funded by ads. Google has said these entities have to obtain permission on their own to target ads at residents of the European Union.

The report said what had transpired showed the extent to which Google dominated the US$200 billion global online advertising market.

Ads are often served after a user's personal information is passed through a number of ad tech servers and each needs to have permission from the user to access the information.

Ad tech firms had software ready a month before the GDPR took effect to be in compliance with the regulation, but Google said on 22 May that it would only join the group in August.

The search giant then created a temporary solution and due to this, some of its advertising clients are serving ads to users who have not yet agreed to view personalised marketing information.

Fines for not following the tenets of the GDPR can be as high as 4% of a company's yearly earnings.

Before the law took effect, Rashda Rana, a senior counsel in the UK, told  iTWire that management consulting firm Oliver Wyman had estimated that the EU would reap about US$6 billion in fines from organisations that were not in compliance during the first year of the GDPR.

Four executives from the advertising technology consortium said they hoped for tolerance from the EU until Google supported the technology they had devised.

“Once Google adopts the consent framework, much of the confusion will start to settle down a bit,” said Walter Knapp, chief executive of ad software company Sovrn Holdings.

One of the main issues that the consortium has faced has to do with Google DoubleClick Bid Manager which is used by big advertisers to buy advertising space from ad exchanges.

At the moment, numerous sites put up pop-ups when visited by people from the EU, asking whether personal information can be send to advertising exchanges and DBM. This is because advertising space with user information is worth more to the advertiser.

But at the moment, DBM cannot deal with the user's choice as it does not support the standard created by the consortium.

Reuters said that big advertising exchanges like AppNexus and Rubicon Project had implemented an undocumented workaround for this issue, by ensuring that ad space would only be offered on DBM when user consent had been obtained.

Emails sent to websites by these two exchanges said that it was up to the site owners to block DBM if they could not guarantee user consent.

Google has been sued for non-compliance with the GDPR by a privacy activist who is claiming €3.7 billion (US$4.3 billion) in damages.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.


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