Google faces privacy complaints in France, Germany, 7 other EU countries

The online ad industry, a money spinner for Google, Facebook and other online platforms and advertisers, is expected to grow to $273 billion this year. (Reuters)
Updated 04 June 2019
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Google faces privacy complaints in France, Germany, 7 other EU countries

  • The criticism mirrored a complaint filed by privacy-focused web browser Brave in Ireland and Britain
  • The online ad industry, a money spinner for Google, Facebook and other online platforms and advertisers, is expected to grow to $273 billion this year

BRUSSELS: Google’s privacy woes are set to increase after campaigners on Tuesday filed complaints to data protection regulators in France, Germany and seven other EU countries over the way it deals with data in online advertising.
The criticism mirrored a complaint filed by privacy-focused web browser Brave in Ireland and Britain which triggered an investigation by the Irish watchdog last month.
At issue is real-time bidding, a server-to-server buying process which uses automated software to match millions of ad requests each second from online publishers with real-time bids from advertisers.
The online ad industry, a money spinner for Google, Facebook and other online platforms and advertisers, is expected to grow to $273 billion this year according to research firm eMarketer.
“The real-time bidding advertising system may be broadcasting the personal data of users to hundreds or thousands of companies. This advertising method clearly breaches the EU’s data protection regulation (GDPR),” said Eva Simon, a legal expert at campaigning group Liberties which is coordinating the complaints.
The EU enacted the landmark GDPR a year ago which includes fines up to 4 percent of a company’s global turnover for violations.
“Real-time bidding is used Google and many other digital advertising technology companies. It is time for them to #StopSpyingOnUs,” Liberties said.
The other seven EU countries where the complaints were filed are Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shares in Google parent Alphabet Inc. closed 6 percent down on Monday following reports that the US Justice Department may investigate Google for hampering competition.


Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

Updated 21 July 2019
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Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

  • Twitter said the accounts harassed people linked to the Baha’i faith
  • The Baha’i faith is a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran

WASHINGTON: A day after Twitter suspended the accounts of several Iranian state media outlets, the social networking service said Saturday it acted after harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith.
Amid soaring tensions in the region, heightened by Iran’s seizure on Friday of a British-flagged tanker, some of the affected media outlets had speculated that the suspensions were related to their coverage of the seizure.
But Twitter cited what it said was the coordinated and targeted harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith, a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran.
It did not name the suspended accounts, and said it was continuing to investigate the matter.
“Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules,” read English-language messages on each of the Iranian media outlets’ accounts.
Mehr news agency, which is close to moderate conservatives in Iran, said its Farsi-language account appeared to have been blocked late Friday following its reports on the seizure of the tanker Stena Impero in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it seized the Swedish-owned tanker for breaking “international maritime rules” in the strait, a chokepoint for around a third of the world’s sea-borne oil.
Mehr’s Farsi-language Twitter page was inaccessible on Saturday, along with those of the official IRNA news agency and the agency of the Young Journalists’ Club.
“Since last night and after seizure of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz the account of the Young Journalists’ Club and some other users have been suspended,” the YJC said on its website.
Mehr noted that its Mehr Diplomacy account, which publishes analysis and interviews on foreign policy, was also offline.
Another account taken down belonged to Ali Akbar Raefipoor, a hard-line public speaker.
None of the owners of the suspended accounts said they had been given any reason for the move by Twitter.
The micro-blogging platform is banned in Iran, but many officials still have accounts and people access them by using a virtual private network, or VPN, to bypass censorship.