Feeds

German watchdog opposes Google purchase of DoubleClick

Double trouble for privacy

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

The proposed $3.1bn merger of search giant Google and online advertising company DoubleClick would lead to "a massive violation of data privacy rights", a German privacy watchdog has warned.

The Data Protection Commissioner of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein Thilo Weichert has written to Europe's Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes expressing his view that the merger would allow the combined company unprecedented access to personal data about users.

"At present we have to assume that in the event of a takeover of DoubleClick the databases of that company will be integrated into those of Google, with the result that fundamental provisions of the European Data Protection Directive will be violated," he said, according to Germany's Heise Online.

Wiechert said access to the combined database would give the company access to highly detailed personal information. "Such an approach contradicts fundamental data privacy principles of the European Union: limited specific use, transparency, the right to object, the protection of sensitive data and the right to having data deleted," he wrote.

Google is already under fire in Europe over its use of identifying information linking users to their internet searches. When it offered to delete these after 18 to 24 months earlier this year, the fact the data had been kept indefinitely caused outrage among users and privacy regulators.

Google is facing competition hurdles in Europe and the US over its proposed acquisition of DoubleClick. Google's dominance in internet search combined with DoubleClick's position as a leading advertising firm have led to concerns about privacy and about competition issues.

Google appeared before a Senate hearing in the US last week to argue that the deal would not create an internet advertising monopoly.

A complaint has also been filed with Kroes by the European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC). "We fear that Google will vertically-leverage (bundle/tie) its keyword search dominance with DoubleClick's leadership in online banner/video display advertising, and with its Google-YouTube dominance in video search," said that complaint.

"This vertical combination could give Google-DoubleClick clear dominance on the overall market for advertisements provided to third-party websites. Google alone currently holds a 90 per cent share of the search market in Germany, nearly a 75 per cent in the UK, around 82 per cent share in France and 90 per cent in Spain.

"Never before has one single company had the market and technological power to collect and exploit so much information about what a user does on the Internet," said the complaint. "With DoubleClick's cookie-tracking technologies, and Google's ever-increasing breadth of online services (from mail and messaging, to mapping, electronic payment, office applications, user-generated video and blogging spaces, and so on), a particular user’s online activities will be trackable by a single entity on a much more continuous and universal level than ever before."

The BEUC said that this gathering of data was "in clear violation of users' privacy rights".

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.