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NY Board Seeks Google DoubleClick Delay

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Concerns about privacy have prompted the New York State Consumer Protection Board to ask the Federal Trade Commission for a delay in approving Google’s proposed purchase of DoubleClick.

NY Board Seeks Google DoubleClick Delay

Hooking up Google’s voluminous databases with DoubleClick’s horde of tracking information about web surfers could be a privacy nightmare just waiting to explode. The New York State Consumer Protection Board would rather not see that happen.

"People may not realize it, but Google already collects and retains an enormous amount of personal data about the specific websites and advertisements that are visited by millions of people," Mindy Bockstein, chairperson and executive director of the CPB, said in a statement.

"If this information is misused or falls into the wrong hands, this data collection could seriously harm the privacy rights of consumers," she said.

Bockstein isn’t interested in Google’s nebulous attestations that it protects consume privacy. Her agency wants the steak and not just the sizzle, so to speak. The CPB asked the FTC to compel Google "to make full and public disclosure of its current data collection practices and contemplated data collection practices post-merger."

The CPB also listed what they want to see in a privacy protection program:

  • a plan to protect Google’s database from cyberthieves;
  • consumer access to the personally-identifiable information in Google’s database and the ability to delete or edit inaccurate information;
  • an opt-out mechanism that would allow an Internet user to prevent Google from tracking and storing information about the websites visited by an individual computer user; and,
  • remedies in the event of a data breach or failure to comply with a consumer’s opt-out request.

As one of the biggest targets on the Internet, Google likely has pretty good database security in place today. They already have a process for removing phone numbers and residential addresses from their index.

The opt-out mechanism Bockstein wants is going to be a sticking point. Her agency is essentially asking Google to set up a method of selectively pruning information from its access logs.

That’s a little like asking a prospector to toss the gold nuggets back in the river, and will probably be as well received at the Googleplex. The FTC could be more receptive, and if that is the case we expect to see legal missives related to the DoubleClick deal flying over the summer.

NY Board Seeks Google DoubleClick Delay
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