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Advertising on Google.com Requires No Personally Identifiable Information (PII), States Executive

No PII To Advertise on Google

"Advertising on Google.com is contextual, requires no personally identifiable information, is not provided by a third-party, and does not collect any information in addition to the basic information collected to provide search results," asserted Google's Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Alan Davidson, in a letter sent August 8, 2008, to the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The Committee had asked Google, along with AOL, Microsoft, and a number of other companies, to clarify its custum and practice on personally identifiable information (PPI).

Google's Bret Taylor keynoting at AJAXWorld RIA Conference & Expo in 2007

"We believe that our answers are best understood in the context of broader industry practices, as are many issues relating to online advertising," Davidson wrote in his letter. He continued:

"Concerns about online advertising and its privacy implications cannot be solved by one company alone or by focusing solely on advertising practices. Moreover, both technologies and best practices for protecting privacy are changing rapidly, and this dynamism should be taken into account by policy makers as you examine this space."

In its detailed answers, Google told the Congressional Committee that it retains very few types of data at all about customers and emphasized that it did not engage in potentially the most invasive of technologies - deep-packet inspection (DPI):

"Google retains very few types of data: standard server log information that includes the uniform resource locator, the Internet Protocol (IP) address associated with the computer or proxy server from which the request originated, the time and date of the request, the operating system that runs on the computer, and the type of browser that runs on the computer. We also may collect a unique cookie ID generated for the computer from which the request originated.

In addition, as noted above, advertising on Google.com is contextual in nature. It is not based on the web surfing history of an individual user or upon the demographic profile of a user. Advertising on Google.com also only involves first-party advertising. That is, there is no third-party involved in the serving of any ad on our search engine. Finally, as noted above, we do not collect additional user information to provide advertising on Google.com.

In sum, advertising on Google.com is contextual, requires no PII, is not provided by a third-party, and does not collect any information in addition to the basic information collected to provide search results."

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Jeremy Geelan 08/12/08 05:01:12 AM EDT

Google stressed that it did not engage in potentially the most invasive of technologies, deep-packet inspection.