Charities Urged To Stop Sharing Data With Adtech Industry

Coins being donated in charity bucket

Coins being donated in charity bucket

getty
Privacy campaigners and leading academics have called for British charities to remove ad trackers from their most sensitive pages. In an open letter, ProPrivacy and other groups say that that many charity pages dealing with extremely sensitive issues such as mental health, debt, end-of-life care, and disability contained various trackers allowing advertisers to profile vulnerable users based on the topic of the page – for example, alcohol addiction or mental health issues. The team found that 21 per cent of the top 100 charities were sharing data directly with data brokers, and that 31 per cent contained trackers belonging to real-time-bidding platforms. Meanwhile, more than nine in ten were in breach of GDPR in some way - putting them on the hook for fines of up to £1.4 billion.
"Unfortunately, by allowing data brokers and other AdTech companies to gather user data on charity pages dealing with profoundly sensitive topics, charities are inadvertently misplacing the trust that their users place in them when visiting their website for help and advice," says Sean McGrath, lead researcher on the project.

"The adtech industry is deeply complex, and it is almost impossible to say where user data ends up or what it might eventually be used for."

ProPrivacy points out that, in many cases, the charities concerned may not even know exactly what trackers they have on their sites. The campaigners are calling on charities to carry out audits of their websites for third-party adtech elements, and to exclude them entirely from any support or advice pages dealing with sensitive topics.

MORE FOR YOU

Google Chrome Update Gets Serious: Homeland Security (CISA) Confirms Attacks Underway

Why You Should Change This ‘Dangerous’ WhatsApp Photo Setting On Your iPhone

If You Have This ‘Very Dangerous’ Android Video App, Delete It Now

"When a mother with a drinking problem visits a charity site for help, is it reasonable for her to expect that this information might form some part of an advertising profile that can be sold on to hundreds of third parties including alcohol retailers?" the open letter asks.

"When a teenager seeks advice about their mental health, should they assume this data could eventually form part of their digital DNA?"

Similar Articles:

I left the ad industry because our use of data tracking terrified me

I left the ad industry because our use of data tracking terrified me

Pager systems used in healthcare could be exposing patient data across Canada

Pager systems used in healthcare could be exposing patient data across Canada

Personal privacy matters during a pandemic — but less than it might at other times

Personal privacy matters during a pandemic — but less than it might at other times

Google reportedly collecting health data, including lab results, on millions of Americans

Google reportedly collecting health data, including lab results, on millions of Americans