Watchdog group EPIC asks FTC To investigate Google Offiline tracking for privacy violations

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In May, we posted about Googles announcement of new capability to track online/offline interations and attribute them to Googles ads. Although advertisers were no doubt excited about this new tracking capability, Googles secrecy around the program prompted questions about how exactly Google is able to connect customers credit card transactions with Google user account data, exactly. Google did not share too many details, citing proprietary technology, keeping with its precident as a "blackbox".

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint with the FTC citing that this exact lack of visiblity into methods, should be verified by the FTC because the very vaugeness around the methology may be sufficent to warrent to suggest that sufficent protections for customers are not in place. Read the full complaint from EPIC here.here are highlights:

"Google claims that it can preserve consumer privacy while correlating advertising impressions with store purchases, but Google refuses to reveal—or allow independent testing of—the techniquethat would make this possible. The privacy of millions of consumers thus depends on a secret, proprietary algorithm. And although Google claims that consumers can opt out of being tracked, the process is burdensome, opaque, and misleading.

Googles reliance on a secret, proprietary algorithm for assurances of consumer privacy, Google’s collection of massive numbers of credit card records through unidentified “third-party partnerships,” and Google’s use of an opaque and misleading “opt-out” mechanism are unfair and deceptive trade practices subject to investigation and injunction by the FTC."

Google has, for years, stood its ground that its algorithms were private within search and this was largely accepted. As scrutiny mounts within some of its biggest markets, will Google open up more or remain a blackbox?