Together with Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group, and Michael Veale of University College London, Brave’s chief policy officer Johnny Ryan filed formal complaints with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner and the U.K. Information Commissioner.
Brave, an open-source blockchain browser that blocks ads and website trackers, cited that the way Google and the advertising technology (adtech) industry publish personalised online ads is committing:
“wide-scale and systematic breaches of the data protection regime”.
It hopes that these privacy complaints will be the catalyst for an EU-wide investigation, in reference to the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and will become a test case to create a new European Data Protection Board with greater powers to regulate privacy.
The GDPR is designed to ensure that individuals have greater control over their personal data within the E.U. Brave’s Ryan said the complaint points at:
“all ad tech companies that broadcast internet users personal data widely, in what are called RTB bid requests,”
Taking aim on Google, the complaint highlights that when users search via the tech giants website, unbeknown to them, their personal data and information on their behaviour online is broadcast to multiple companies interested in targeting them with ads.
It states that Google’s data allows the adtech industry to bid and purchase ads using data that can help reveal sensitive aspects of users, such as income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and political leaning, a practice that has seen companies like Facebook and Twitter put on trial by the U.S. government.
Brave says that adtech companies then “broadcast these data widely in order to solicit potential advertisers”, and once this happens, its dissemination is impossible to control, which it considers to be poor privacy protection for users.
The complainants argue that in this way, the GDPR’s requirement for personal data to be processed with appropriate security “including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss.” is being violated by Google. The complaint filed with the UK.. Information Commissioner states:
“The sheer number of recipients of such data mean that those broadcasting it cannot protect against the unauthorised further processing of that data” adding “data breaches are inherent in the design of the industry.”
Google has stated that it is committed to complying with the GDPR, and has integrated strong privacy protections, under the direct consultation of European regulators.
The Silicon Valley veteran Brendan Eich, said that the Brave browser is designed to improve online privacy, giving users greater control of their own data, and eliminate middleman in the ad industry. When launching the blockchain browser Brave, Eich stated that it aims to:
“reconnect the funding that comes in gross payments after the fact from advertisers and gets chopped down by a bunch of middle players—notably Google—and the remnants are given to publishers.”
As per a previous BCTech Report back in April, the Dow Jones Media Group signed up to test the Brave blockchain browser, where users earn Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) by engaging with ad content from verified publishers.
There are a many companies vying to improve the adtech industry using blockchain technology, such as the Atlas Protocol’ created by ex-Google employees and funded by Softbank to launch a new advertising protocol, or media giant Comcast that is developing a blockchain advertising platform with major TV networks from around the world.