A loophole in browsing data on virtually all websites and apps puts U.S. and European leaders, military personnel, judges, and maybe even you at risk of blackmail, hacking and compromise, according to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (“ICCL”).
Their report highlights the vulnerabilities inherent in the Real-Time Bidding ("RTB") system used in online advertising. This system, prevalent across the web, involves sharing detailed, anonymized data between data brokers and advertisers. However, this data often includes sensitive information about key EU and U.S. figures, including military and government personnel, making them susceptible to potential blackmail and security breaches.
Foreign entities have been known to exploit this system to access sensitive information tracking movements, financial situations, and mental health statuses. The ICCL uncovered a surveillance tool called Patternz, which it says uses RTB to profile 5b people, including the driving routes used by target individuals and information about their children! Google and other tech firms involved in RTB are also implicated in sending sensitive data to countries like Russia and China, where the data can be accessed by security agencies.
The financial services sector has also been scrutinized over data protection and usage. The U.S. government passed risk management legislation this summer, putting the onus on banks to assess the risks of their third-party relationships, including those with fintech start-ups and Banking-as-a-Service players. While in Europe, the upcoming 3rd Payment Services Directive (“PSD3”) aims to protect consumers’ rights and personal information while improving competition in the payments industry.
So this weekend, when you find yourself browsing through your Instagram feed feeling a primal urge to buy yourself an air-fryer, outdoor pizza oven (with the slow-motion flames), or even the COVID best seller - a smokeless wood-burning stove for your patio Thanksgiving get-togethers: think twice, channel your inner Mad-Eye-Moody, and check where your personal eCommerce data is actually going.
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You Sold The Data To Who?
Web browsing data is ‘serious security threat’ to U.S. And EU - The ICCL is calling on Google and IAB TechLab to amend their protocols so that no personal data is permitted in future RTB broadcasts and all identifying and linkable data, such as high resolution timestamps, data extensions and unique identifiers, is removed. Read more
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Web browsing data collected in more detail than previously known - An investigation by the non-profit Irish Council for Civil Liberties published on Tuesday shows the number of segments is greater than previously thought, including data on many influential and sensitive professions that were not known to be sold to advertisers. Read more
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