ICCL targets big tech with German lawsuit against ‘world’s largest data breach’

ICCL targets big tech with German lawsuit against 'world's largest data breach'

Johnny Ryan

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has launched a lawsuit in Germany aiming to end the practice of “real-time bidding” for online advertising – which it calls “the world’s biggest data breach”.

The civil liberties body has initiated proceedings against IAB TechLab, an industry trade body which counts major online platforms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter among its members.

ICCL accuses IAB TechLab – which is headquartered in New York but has a European presence in Hamburg – of drawing up “reckless and harmful rules” governing the online advertising industry.

The group has prepared “hundreds of pages of evidence” for Hamburg State Court, including what it says is “the industry rulebook for building secret dossiers about every person”, including extremely personal information.

Dr Johnny Ryan, senior fellow of ICCL, said: “These secret dossiers about you – based on what you think is private – could prompt an algorithm to remove you from the shortlist for your dream job.

“A retailer might use the data to single you out for a higher price online. A political group might micro target you with personalised disinformation.”

ICCL is working with London law firm AWO and German law firm Spirit Legal on the proceedings.

Solicitor Ravi Naik, partner at AWO, said: “In September 2018 we brought evidence of the unlawful behaviour of the ad industry to regulators. Owing to regulatory inertia, years later, we have no resolution to that conduct. Instead, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties have had to stand up for all of our rights.”

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