Senators Question Online Ad Exchanges on Sharing of Americans’ Data with Foreign Companies
In a series of letters, six US senators questioned eight digital advertising exchanges about the possible sale of Americans’ personal information to foreign-owned companies. The senators are seeking information about the sharing of Americans’ data through “real time bidding” – the auction process used to place many targeted digital advertisements. For most online ads, although only one company wins the auction, hundreds of firms participating receive information about the potential recipient of the ad, including device identifiers and cookies, web browsing and location data, IP addresses, and age and gender. The senators asked for answers to the following questions by May 4, 2021:
- Please identify the specific data elements about users, their devices, the websites they are accessing, and apps they are using that you provide to auction participants.
- Please identify each company, foreign or domestic, to whom your firm has provided bidstream data in the past three years that is not contractually prohibited from sharing, selling, or using the data for any purpose unrelated to bidding on and delivering an ad.
- If your firm has contractual restrictions in place prohibiting the sharing, sale, or secondary use of bidstream data, please detail all efforts to audit compliance with these contractual restrictions and the results of those audits.
- Please identify each foreign-headquartered or foreign-majority owned company to whom your firm has provided bidstream data from users in the United States and their devices in the past three years.
The letters were signed by Sens Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Warner (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The letters were sent to AT&T, Index Exchange, Google, Magnite, OpenX, PubMatic, Twitter and Verizon.
Wyden, Bipartisan Senators, Question Online Ad Exchanges on Sharing of Americans’ Data with Foreign Companies