back to article Irish data cops are shoving a probe right into Google's ads

Ireland's Data Protection Commission has launched a formal investigation into adtech giant Google over alleged breaches of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), potentially costing the company £1.12bn. "A statutory inquiry pursuant to section 110 of the Data Protection Act 2018 has been commenced in respect of …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge

    That woulda be a spicy tamale

    should the full possible fine be imposed. Again, I ask where do these gargantuan fines go? Who benefits directly? (I'm still on page 667 of gdpr, just finishing the table of contents) I doubt it's the people the offense was committed against... how could AlphaGoogle know?

    That's a might fine scam you're running there, how does one go about getting a piece of the action??

    1. Pseu Donyme

      Re: That woulda be a spicy tamale

      Where the money goes doesn't really matter as long as an offender is hit hard enough to deter them (or any potential offender) from breaking the law in the future. I suppose the money from a GDPR fine goes into government coffers in the issuing country (as is the case with fines in general), hence taxes on the populace can be a smidgen lower (and/or their tax financed services better) down the line - this in addition to the benefit of them actually enjoying their right to data protection due to GDPR being enforced (as with other protections enshrined in law).

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: hence taxes on the populace can be a smidgen lower

        Your optimism is touching.

      2. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: That woulda be a spicy tamale

        Taxes could never be lower as a result of fine income as it isn't a guaranteed predictable income. Same way as councils cannot run themselves on the money they receive from selling assets or windfall income, its against the law to do so.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      "I'm still on page 667 of gdpr"

      Don't read it on a phone screen....

    3. H in The Hague

      Re: That woulda be a spicy tamale

      "(I'm still on page 667 of gdpr, just finishing the table of contents)"

      78 pages, with wide margins, so about 50 standard pages.

      Admittedly the UK ICO's GDPR guidelines are about three times longer. And the Data Protection Act, which transposes the GDPR to UK legislation runs to 354 pages:

      I think the NL version runs to about 18 pages :) though not entirely sure I looked at the right act.

      Happy reading.

    4. streaky

      Re: That woulda be a spicy tamale

      Again, I ask where do these gargantuan fines go? Who benefits directly?

      Government coffers. You can take companies to court directly under the GDPR but you take on all the risk so..

      BTW on the pages meme the GDPR is a Regulation (the 'R' on the end is a hint) - it doesn't need transposing into national law because it already is national law. I'll never understand why any of that happened. Okay, UK, we're leaving so it's nice to have a reference as an act parliament can overwrite with common sense down the road, but still..

      1. Cynical Pie

        Re: That woulda be a spicy tamale

        It was transposed directly into national law, at least in the UK using the DPA 2018. The DPA 2018 also encompasses the Law Enforcement directive as GDPR doesn't cover processing for law enforcement purposes.

        1. streaky

          Re: That woulda be a spicy tamale

          GDPR does cover processing for law enforcement, it gives a total exemption. As national security. My point was as an EU regulation there's no real reason to transpose beyond convenience - it has to be effectively word-for-word else it's moot. It already overrules national law.

  2. I.Geller Bronze badge

    All as I promised.

    In mathematics, a tuple is a finite ordered list of elements. An n-tuple is a sequence of n elements, where n is a non-negative integer.

    Google spying after tuples, they help to describe users and ads - to find the area of their intersection. In order to make digestible and suitable for sale sets of tuples (our personal profiles) Google is obliged to totally spy on each of us online, using my early and patented version of AI.

    More mature (and patented as well) AI technology allows you to create immeasurably better tuples offline, in personal computers and without any espionage, creating our profiles that belong to us and not for sale. Our profiles are AI databases.

    Therefore Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin and Larry Page disappeared from the horizon - I, in the best traditions of Hollywood, finish the bloody vendetta with them killing Google business. AI is their death!

    We are going to be free soon! Absolute privacy! All as I promised.

    1. I.Geller Bronze badge

      Hurrah To AI Databases!

      Advertisers only need our tuples! They do not need our texts, they are not interested in what we read and write!

      There is a paragraph:

      -- Alice laughs, she rejoices and has fun. This girl is happy!

      In this paragraph

      - one explicit name, one noun, one implicitly used pronoun and one explicit pronoun, all refer to " Alice";

      - there are four descriptive sections: "laughing", "rejoicing", "having fun" and " happy."

      Structuring is reduced to the creation of a common pool of descriptive parts for all somehow related and/or synonymous nouns-pronouns of this paragraph.

      In this paragraph there is a synonymous cluster of 16 templates (in one paragraph there can be many such clusters.) In the cluster there are only 4 original patterns that came from the paragraph - you can not understand what text they came from and what it's about! Absolute confidentiality! And advertisers can get our totally unreadable sets of tuples, and to direct their ads with the absolutely unbelievable precision.

      Death To Google! Death To FB! Death TO Internet!

      Hurrah To AI Databases!

      1. I.Geller Bronze badge

        Death To Google! Death To FB! Death TO Internet!

        Google spies on statistics on patterns called "popularity." Now much better statistics can be obtained offline!

        In paragraph

        -- Alice laughs, she rejoices and has fun. This girl is happy!

        4 patterns have weights that indicate the importance of each:

        - Alice laughs -- 1/6

        - she rejoices -- 1/6

        - Alice has fun -- 1/6

        - This girl is happy -- 1/2

        Spying on the Internet Google is not able to get even close to such statistics!

        1. I.Geller Bronze badge

          Death To Google!

          According to one thorough research article: In the mid-90s, future Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin used indirect Pentagon and other government funding to develop web crawlers and page ranking applications. Around the same time, the CIA, Directorate of Intelligence and National Security Agency–under the auspices of the National Science Foundation–funded the Massive Data Digital Systems (MDDS) program. A publication by Sergey Brin acknowledges that he received funding from the MDDS program. According to Professor Bhavani Thuraisingham, who worked on the project, “The intelligence community … essentially provided Brin seed-funding, which was supplemented by many other sources, including the private sector.” The Query Flocks part of Google’s patented PageRank system was developed as part of the MDDS program. Two entrepreneurs, Andreas Bechtolsheim (who set up Sun Microsystems) and David Cheriton, both of whom had previously received Pentagon money, were early investors in Google.

          PA Advisors v Google

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            Nurse ! He's off his meds again !

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: Death To Google!

            A forum I visit has a very handy Ignore function that allows you to block users who you don't want to read. Maybe el Reg could think about a similar system here?

            1. Martin Summers Silver badge

              Re: Death To Google!

              El Reg appear to be happy to let anyone and their bot splurge all over the comments these days. No doubt amanfrommars and his sidekick will be along shortly.

              1. MrDamage Silver badge

                Re: Death To Google!

                At least amanfrommars is an interesting read, providing you have the peyote to decipher it.

            2. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

              Re: Death To Google!

              I was about to submit the same feature request, have an upvote!

              Bonus if we can choose to ignore the replies as well.

              1. I.Geller Bronze badge

                Death To Google!

                No way! You will listen and read me, you will understand me whether you want to or not. Behind my back is AI, my twice-proven theory. For much less Einstein got his Nobel prize, remember? So, carefully grasp the meaning of my every word, memorize every letter? Your grandchildren will be told how lucky you were to get a slap from me.

          3. I.Geller Bronze badge

            Re: Death To Google!

            The only way to fight Google and FB is to pay people to destroy them. Which I do! I'm showing you all how to make money.

            None of the commentators could refute the fact that my new AI technology is superior and works, that it is superior to what uses Google and FB, which is stolen from me earlier.

            I do not wail in impotence hope on the state, I show what and how to do, in the best American tradition. Fight the Evil, fight Google and FB!

          4. I.Geller Bronze badge

            Re: Death To Google!

            I wonder what bastard at Pentagon and the CIA convinced everyone not to help me? Under what pretext? Or is it all about bribes?

  3. ratfox
    Paris Hilton

    I assume that by this point, Google is considering yearly billion-dollars fine from the EU as "just the cost of doing business".

    If I understand correctly, the claim is that Google is "broadcasting" data such as screen size, language settings and user interests when choosing which ad to display? I don't quite get who is "receiving" the data, though. I would have thought that the ad auction is happening on Google servers and third-parties never see the data. Or is that displayed later in statistics of who clicked on the ads?

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      That information is necessary for automated bidding, so it gets sent to the servers of various advertisers.

      1. ratfox

        No, that's definitely not happening. The advertisers define in advance how much they bid in different circumstances, and Google resolves the auction themselves.

        In the first place, there's basically no advertiser that has the infrastructure to handle that kind of QPS.

        1. I.Geller Bronze badge

          With AI technology nobody needs to bid! Ads search for people by themselves, no search engines, no Google and FB!

          Death to Google and FB!

  4. Mark 85

    Simple solution really. Set browser to "stealth" (private) mode, activate an ad-blocker, and never ever click on any ad that gets through. But then, I'm sure they're still tracking me.

    Icon for old and grumpy and don't follow me around like a 2-year old. Now get off my lawn.

    1. Chris G

      "Set browser to "stealth" (private) mode, activate an ad-blocker, and never ever click on any ad that gets through. "

      Add to that 'Don't use the internet, don't buy anything with a card online or off and don't use Android phones',

      I'm sure there is a lot more that can track you but Google is very interested in keeping up with your purchases offline to see if their online ads are working. So even if you are blocking ads they are still trying to slurp data from purchases.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Would you mind explaining how Google has access to my credit card data ? The shops where I physically go to buy stuff do not have a Google browser on the cash register window, and I do not see Google scripts being used in financial servers.

        So I'd really like to know how you think Google can find out what I purchase in brick-and-mortar stores with my credit card.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          re: I'd really like to know how you think Google can find out what I purchase

          Bricks and mortar company has a funky web system.

          Finance bods want user stats.

          Cheapest option is Google analytics and it comes with groovy graphs.

          That's one really straight forward scenario that took me 1 minute to think of. Google nerds are way above my level.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Ermm they just buy the datasets straight from the credit card companies. Everyone from ad agencies to hedge funds does it.

        3. Chris G

          I can't find it at the moment but I will look for the article I read and post a link later if I find it.

          Edit; look for ' Google tracks offline purchasing, at Business Insider'

        4. Portent
          IT Angle

          Option 1: Buy it directly from the credit card company.

          Option 2: Buy it from the shop directly. If the shop has an online presence which you have previously used, then it can easily link your shop and online sales (and therefore your identity) if you use the same card for both.


        5. Updraft102

          It was in the news a while ago that Google had made a deal with one of the major credit card companies to get people's anonymous sales metadata. It would include amounts of purchase as well as dates/times/locations.

          They don't know which items you purchase, but they will know the total paid and the place in which it was purchased. If they can cross reference that with location data available from the phone, which they have an 80% chance of having (that being the approximate market share of Android), they will, after a couple of visits where the pattern was present, be able to attach a name and a browsing history to purchases. Most people leave the store immediately after a purchase, so it will be a simple matter to match the purchase time to the moment when someone moved away from the store in which that purchase occurred.

          If you buy a bunch of items, it won't do much good for them, but if you buy a single item, they can easily have their analytics program look up what the price was at that store at that time and compare that with whatever you may have been browsing beforehand to see if any of the ads you saw were for that item. If there are any matches between that price paid and an item that was in one of their ads, they can count that as a possible "hit."

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Simple solution

      Simple solution really. Set browser to "stealth" (private) mode, activate an ad-blocker, and never ever click on any ad that gets through.

      Just add a Pi-Hole, that will protect your entire home network.

    3. sabroni Silver badge

      re: But then, I'm sure they're still tracking me.

      They are. Your simple solution isn't particularly simple and it's not a solution.

    4. MrDamage Silver badge

      You forgot to mention disabling 3rd party cookies, and using a black list, either as a hosts file in Windows, on your router, or a Pi-Hole

      1. I.Geller Bronze badge

        Death to Google!

        AI technology does not need cookies! They are only needed to annotate patterns online, and AI technology allows you to do the same and much better offline, without stealing online.

        Death to Google!

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse


    Don't get your hopes up. I'm sure due to the cozy relationship that the Irish government has with these tax dodging American companies that the parallel Irish DPA won't find anything wrong at all and it'll all be fine. And even if they do... it won't be until 2030 that any actual action will be taken.

  6. adam payne

    The ICO had not responded to The Register's request for comment on the Irish investigation at the time of writing, bearing in mind identical UK complaints are its job to consider.

    There's a surprise.

  7. nichomach
    Big Brother

    An ICO spokesperson said...

    ...nothing but took an awful lot of words to do it?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is zero possibility of the Irish government levying a meaningful fine on Google, Apple, Facebook or any of the others they are colluding with to hide taxes from the rest of the EU.

    1. Warm Braw

      There is zero possibility of the Irish government levying a meaningful fine

      Which is why it's not, in the end, their sole decision. Like the Apple case, it will likely end up in a European court.

    2. I.Geller Bronze badge

      Why such passion for the state? There is a private initiative which is able to solve all problems, it is enough to show people money. Which I did. Here is AI technology - death to Google and FB, you are paid!

  9. Alan Mackenzie

    Here we go again. :-(

    "We [ICO] have been engaging with representatives of the adtech industry and recently hosted an event to discuss the data protection implications of current and future industry practices."

    Yet again, supposed regulators treating scoundrels like honourable gentlemen. I bet these scoundrels are really afraid - they'll run rings round the ICO. It's a good job the public prosecutor doesn't treat armed bank robbers like this.

    These advertisers have been knowingly breaking the law for a year now. How about some prosecutions instead of "engaging" with the criminals?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The entire edifice of online 'adtech' is non-compliant with GDPR and it's about time they started to enforce the law, otherwise there was no point in changing it.

    Next job, enforce cookie consent as the law is written. No blocking access to content if tracking consent is refused, and as easy to opt out of tracking as to opt in. Start with that multi-level monstrosity you get served when you visit an Oath/Yahoo site with a clean browser.

    1. I.Geller Bronze badge

      Re: Good

      I remind you that AI database technology does not need cookies? And that it will replace Internet very soon? All the laws are obsolete.

  11. I.Geller Bronze badge

    The word "red" has a definition:

    red is a color at the end of the spectrum next to orange and opposite violet, as of blood, fire, or rubies.

    "her red lips"

    synonyms: scarlet, vermilion, ruby, ruby red, ruby-colored, cherry, cherry red, cerise, cardinal, carmine, wine, wine red, wine-colored, claret, claret red, claret-colored, blood red; flame, flaming, coral, cochineal, rose, rosy; brick red, maroon, rusty, foxy, rufous; reddish; literarydamask, vermeil; sanguine, gules; rarerufescent

    "a red dress"

    Each the definition's for "red" word has its own definition. For example the word "color" :

    color is the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.

    "the lights flickered and changed color"

    synonyms: hue, shade, tint, tone, tinge, cast, tincture

    "the lights flickered and changed color"

    Train your texts on dictionary and you will get a real Artificial Intelligence. Don't be idiots?

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