Blockchain Browser Brave Files GDPR Complaint Against Google

News | September 17, 2018 By:

Brave, an open-source blockchain-powered browser, has filed privacy complaints against Internet giant Google in Britain and Ireland.

In the complaint, Brave, developed by Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich, wants to leverage the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to open an EU-wide investigation into Google’s data collection practices. The GDPR, which was adopted by the EU on May 25 of this year, targets citizens’ personally identifiable information (PII), providing transparency around its use and giving people the right to restrict its use or request it be deleted all together.

The complaint claims that Google and the advertising industry is committing “wide-scale and systemic breaches of the data protection regime” through the way they place personalized ads. According to Brave, every time a person visits a website and is shown a “behavioural” ad on a website, intimate personal data that describes each visitor, and what they are doing online is broadcast to tens or hundreds of companies without their knowledge in order to auction and place ads. Brave said this violates GDPR’s requirement for personal data to be “processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorized or unlawful processing and against accidental loss.”

“There is a massive and systematic data breach at the heart of the behavioral advertising industry,” said Brave’s chief policy officer Johnny Ryan. “Despite the two year lead-in period before the GDPR, adtech companies have failed to comply. Our complaint should trigger a EU-wide investigation in to the ad tech industry’s practices, using Article 62 of the GDPR. The industry can fix this. Ads can be useful and relevant without broadcasting intimate personal data.”

The complaint, which appears to be the first action of this nature since the application of the GDPR, was filed simultaneously with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner and the UK Information Commissioner. It is being legally assisted by Ravi Naik, a Partner at ITN Solicitors who worked with David Carroll on the Cambridge Analytica complaint to the UK Information Commissioner.

“We have been instructed by clients in numerous jurisdictions to file complaints concerning the behavioural advertising industry,” Naik said. “We are confident that any proper appraisal by the authorities of the concerns will lead to a fundamental shift in our relationship with the Internet, for the better.”

While the complaint argues that Google is violating the GDPR’s requirements, Google said that it has already implemented strong privacy protections in consultation with European regulators and is committed to complying with the GDPR.