Civil Rights Defenders Submits Complaint Against Distribution of Sensitive Personal Data Within the Online Advertising Industry

Today, Civil Rights Defenders submits a complaint to the Swedish Authority for Privacy Protection. In the complaint, we address how sensitive personal data is broadcast on online advertising and Real-Time Bidding (RTB) markets in violation of GDPR policies

The RTB system allows for personal data, including the location, search and browsing history of individuals to be shared with thousands of companies without consent. The personal data is distributed and sold to companies that use it for targeted advertising. The complaint is directed toward Google and the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe (IAB Europe), which are the leading actors in this area. 

The failure to protect personal data violates GDPR, the EU’s regulations on data protection and privacy. 

“This is a serious violation of people’s integrity and right to privacy, which is something that affects us all. Personal data is being distributed without any checks or regulations. The system that has been developed completely discards GDPR policies which exist to protect us from exactly this”, said John Stauffer, Legal Director at Civil Rights Defenders. 

Civil Rights Defenders’ complaint in Sweden is part of a larger campaign taking place across Europe since 2018. Several organisations have submitted complaints in 22 countries, including France, Germany and Portugal, in which they call on EU countries to cooperate and investigate the lack of protection of personal data and violation against the GDPR. 

“It is important that our personal data is not distributed unlawfully or without our consent, especially when it comes to sensitive personal data such as information about our health or sexual orientation. People have, by law, the right to preside over their own personal data and to determine where it ends up and how it is used”, said John Stauffer. 

The data protection authorities in Belgium and Ireland are currently investigating the RTB system based on GDPR policies. Civil Rights Defenders call on the Swedish Authority for Privacy Protection to cooperate with these authorities in their ongoing investigations. 

Among the organisations involved in the project is one of Civil Rights Defenders partner organisations, Civil Liberties Union for Europe, a watchdog that safeguards human rights in the EU. 

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Read the complaint in full here.

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