Real-Time Bidding explained – and how to protect your personal data

real time bidding

Real-Time Bidding (RTB) is a $117+ billion industry that operates behind the scenes on websites and apps. It tracks what you are looking at, no matter how private or sensitive, and records where you go. Every day it broadcasts this data about you to a host of companies continuously, enabling them to profile you. 

As one of the biggest RTB companies, Google is now facing a class-action lawsuit in the UK for allegedly using confidential medical records belonging to 1.6 million individuals without their consent or knowledge.

A recent report from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) explains that the average European user’s data is shared via RTB 376 times per day. When users visit websites or apps which auction advertising space, their profile data is sent out to a vast network of advertisers, revealing their personal interests and preferences including race, religion, sexual preferences and more.

The ICCL is currently engaged in legal action with the Data Protection Commission, arguing that nobody has ever specifically consented to this practice.

Video: Real-Time Bidding explained

Real-Time Bidding relies on the ‘shadow profiles’ which Google and other companies build up by collecting data about you and your interests – and one of the key ways they collect this data is via Gmail. Google has admitted to scanning your Gmail messages to compile a list of your purchases and who-knows-what-else. Consider all the confidential financial, medical and other personal data which you have ever exchanged via email – it’s all being scanned by Google’s AI to build up a ‘shadow profile’ of you, which is sold on via RTB.

So, one of the key ways to limit the amount of data Google and other companies collect about you without your consent is to move away from Gmail to a surveillance-free email provider like Open Web Systems.

Open Web Systems provides a private alternative to the ‘free’ email services with military-grade security and end-to-end encryption.

Oliver Sylvester-Bradley, the founder of Open Web Systems, explains:

“RTB is how Google makes most of its money – by monetising your personal data. They systematically exploit their users’ on a daily basis – it’s how their business works. If you value your privacy – and want to avoid hacks, data breaches and other unexpected uses of your data – the obvious solution is to switch to a paid email service. If you’re not paying your email provider, your data is almost guaranteed to be exploited in some way. But, for just £5/month you can switch to a surveillance-free alternative and rest assured that your data is safe.”

Open Web Systems provides users with file storage, contacts, calendar, notes, deck and tasks for project management – all through a surveillance-free service, powered by renewable energy.

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