Google has come under fire from privacy groups, who have complained to the Federal Trade Commission regarding a recent change in policy from the search giant allowing it to pair personally-identifiable information with browsing data collected by its digital advertising service.
Consumer Watchdog and Privacy Rights Clearing House are leading the charge against Google, alleging the company is tracking information well beyond reason.
According to the privacy organizations, Google has used its wealth of data to create “super profiles” that leverage information from sites that use Google Analytics and the DoubleClick ad network the company acquired in 2007, to track user activity across just about any platform.
Google originally kept between data associated with its various services segmented, but those wall came down in 2012. Privacy organizations are directing their ire at a new policy change implemented this year that further expands the combination of data sets to include Android.
“By finally combining all of this information, Google has engaged in a dangerously invasive and far-reaching appropriation of user data,” the complaint from Consumer Watchdog and Privacy Rights Clearing House reads. “And the manner in which Google perpetrated this appropriation makes it that much more vexing and legally actionable: Google has done incrementally and furtively what would plainly be illegal if done all at once.”
The decision to combine data collected across the variety of platforms owned by Google is contrary to the company’s pledge in 2008 to not link personally-identifiable information with data gathered through DoubleClick browsing data.
Google replaced that original language with new text that says browsing habits “may be” used in combination information the company has learned from its other tools like Gmail. Customers were asked to opt in to the new policy earlier this summer.
The privacy groups bringing the complaint against Google are asking the FTC to investigate the search giant’s most recent change to its data collection policies. The ultimate goal is to stop the combination of data without user consent and order the company to return advertising revenue earned as a result of the “super profile” policy.
Google did not respond to request for comment at the time of publication.