Google is still answering for its DoubleClick data merger

Rep. Val Demings called it out in today's antitrust hearing.

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Chris Ip
July 29th, 2020

In today's Big Tech antitrust hearing in front of a Congressional subcommittee, representative Val Demings questioned Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the company's merger with DoubleClick. 

Specifically, the way Google combined data from the advertising company -- bought in 2007 -- with Google's own data. Founder Sergey Brin had told Congress it would not combine the personal information, but the company quietly did so in 2016 anyway

Pichai confirmed to Demings that as CEO he signed off on the decision to merge the data, saying he reviews all major decisions.

DoubleClick's records of customers browsing the web were combined with Google's personal information "effectively destroying anonymity on the internet," said Demings. The difference between Google in 2007 and 2016, Demings said, was that in those nine years the company accrued huge market power and therefore cared less about user privacy. Effectively, Demings said, the more user data Google has, the more money it makes — which Pichai denied.

“I am concerned that Google’s bait and switch with DoubleClick is part of a broader pattern where Google buys up companies for the purposes of surveilling Americans,” she said. “And because of Google’s dominance, users have no choice but to surrender.”

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