DoubleClick got burned badly once before where sharing data was concerned. Don’t expect the company not to pounce in defense when accused of potential privacy infringement, which has been a common cry since the big Google takeover. CDD The Center for Digital Democracy, Electronic Privacy Information Center and U.S. Public Interest Research Group have filed a complaint with the FTC, claiming the DoubleGoo pair up will lead to privacy infringement.
Some excerpts from the complaint:
Neither Google nor DoubleClick have taken adequate steps to safeguard the personal data that is collected. Moreover, the proposed acquisition will create unique risks to privacy and will violate previously agreed standards for the conduct of online advertising.
The acquisition of DoubleClick will permit Google to track both a person’s Internet
searches and a person’s web site visits. This could impact the privacy interests of 233
million Internet users in North America, 314 million Internet users in Europe, and more
than 1.1 billion Internet users around the world.
In addition to criticizing both companies’ histories in the privacy protection realm, the complaint states DoubleClick and Google intend to combine their data on users. To support this, it cites an LA Times article which notes, “Google’s associate general counsel, Nicole Wong, said Monday that Google did in fact hope to integrate the two companies’ “non-personally identifiable data,” and that mixing them would be of “great benefit” to both consumers and advertisers. Personally identifiable data include names, physical addresses and the like.”
It goes on to request that the FTC “Initiate an investigation of the proposed acquisition…with regard to the ability of Google to record, analyze, track, and profile” PII and non-PII. It also wants DoubleClick to remove user identified cookies and other persistent identifiers from all databases before the Google transfer. There’s more, too. Check out the full complaint.
Surely privacy implications of what both firms do will now be exacerbated by the acquisition. However, this complaint seems premature considering it will be months before these companies actually begin integrating their ad management technologies.
DoubleClick responded later today with a press release stating, “Information collected by DoubleClick DART ad serving technology belongs to DoubleClick’s clients and not to DoubleClick. Any and all information collected by DoubleClick is, and will remain, the property of the company’s clients. Ownership rights, like the other terms of DoubleClick’s client contracts, will be unaffected by any acquisition.” The firm went on to stress it won’t be matching data with Google’s search data since it doesn’t have the right to use the data flowing through its own Dart system.
As we all knew when the news dropped almost exactly a week ago, this deal will touch every end of the online ad industry, so look forward to more complaints from more parties beyond privacy watchdogs and unlikely trust busters.
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