Privacy Beat

Your weekly privacy news update.

Welcome to the first issue of Privacy Beat, the newsletter from ITEGA.

When you subscribe, you will receive five curated articles each week highlighting the most recent legislation, proposals and technology innovations in privacy that are relevant to news media, and to business challenges around identity, advertising and information commerce. You will get early notice of ITEGA convenings and projects, as well as free advanced copies of white papers and research.

No other journalism newsletter has this privacy focus, and no other privacy-based newsletter zeroes in on what innovations in user privacy mean for the news business. Plus, by subscribing to Privacy Beat, you support the nonprofit mission of ITEGA, to foster a digital marketplace that respects privacy and identity.

Please let us know how you like Privacy Beat and what else you’d like to see! Privacy Beat is created each week by Eva Tucker, with an assist from ITEGA Executive Director Bill Densmore. Contact Eva at


1.  Brave challenges Ad Tech

What it Is: On April 25, 2019, Brave launched what it calls the “First Global Ad Platform Based on Privacy.” The blockchain based browser will incentivize users to accept opt-in ads in exchange for rewards—in either fractional Brave BAT tokens or in discounted online goods and services.   

Why it Matters: Brave sells itself as the browser that will block ad trackers, claiming to have already blocked more than 4,500 ads. Brave’s offer to advertisers is that they can now reach individuals most likely to block ads on other browsers. So far, the blockchain-based TAP Network , a kind of ad agency for brands wanting to reach privacy-conscious consumers, has signed on.

And/But: As ad exchange points out, Brave only has 9 million users. Will it grow? Do users want to be paid to see ads? Will users see value in the BAT token? So many questions, so few answers.

For more:

2.  Immuta Claims to Build an Anonymous Data Exchange

What it Is: Immuta claims to offer a federated data exchange designed to keep data completely anonymous. Designed for the intelligence community, Immuta says its Automated Data Governance Platform is compliant with GDPR, CCPA, and HPAA.

Details: Immuta anonymizes data by using a mathematical function developed by Cynthia Dwork termed “differential privacy.” The function associates new data “noise” with the personal data entered into the system; the trick is that the new “noisy” data can be highly associated with simple probability. That way, when a data set appears, the probabilities associated with the data “noise” can be calculated and the data grouped by type without being disintermediated. [Math nerds go here: Everyone else, go here: ]

Why it matters: The holy grail of the publishing business are deep pools of truly anonymized user data that can be sold to advertisers or used to locate new subscribers/donors.  Immuta’s tool is aimed at government scientists but theoretically would enable publishers to securely share data without violating privacy policies or regulations.

And/But: We have seen claims to anonymize data pools before. The fact that Immuta offers a “Reversible Masking” feature that de-encrypts data, “allowing an immediate, one-time re-identification” raises concerns that the data pools are not truly anonymized. Cryptographers raised the same issue already about Apple’s use of differential privacy:

For more: Access Now has a detailed set of posts on privacy. Their author, Bennett Cyphers, built the image we’ve used here. Thanks Bennett!

3. Large Advertisers Launch Trusted Publisher Initiatives

What it is: Like previous initiatives by Diageo, Nestle, P&G and Vodafone, Unilever recently launched a network of trusted publishers and platforms that meet viewability and brand safety standards. 

Why it Matters: This puts pressure on publishers to change the advertising ecosystem, signaling that buyers are looking for an alternative to the programmatic open marketplace in order to protect their investments.

And/But: The industry needs to take bold steps to build a new solution and consumer brands’ patience is running thin. To create a disruptive new technology, publishers need to see each other as allies knowing that there is still room to create individual audience niches.

For More:

4. How Facebook and Google Stand to Benefit from CCPA Regulations

What it is: CCPA, the California Consumer Privacy Act, enacts requirements about what data is collected and what data is shared, as well as requirements giving people the right to opt-out and/or delete data about themselves. The law privileges companies that have first party rather than third party relationships with users. Because Facebook and Google have such first party relationships, they may benefit from the CCPA regulations.

Why it Matters: Programmatic ad buys go through third party ad-tech and some of the most effective ad targeting is done through the type of cross-device sharing that will be outlawed by CCPA. These ad-tech players compete with Facebook—if they are kicked out of the marketplace, publishers may be left primarily with Facebook and Google advertising for programmatic… unless they develop alternatives.

And/But: CCPA was not developed by privacy advocates but by a small group of individuals. One reason privacy activists have been concerned about CCPA is that it does not require opt-in data collection, which would impact first party data collectors (  Nor does it require opt-in data interoperability, that would foster a competitive marketplace (

For More:

5. ITEGA’s Multistakeholder Convening Yields Concrete Results

What it is: On April 24-25, ITEGA partnered with the Local Media Consortium to hold its third multistakeholder convening designed to develop a privacy-compliant, revenue-forward system for news organizations. Forty-five publishers, advertisers, privacy advocates, academics, and technologists produced significant work product:

  • In-depth comments on a draft privacy policy developed for LMC members;

  • Commitment to produce a beta single-sign on system for networks of news publishers;

  • Commitment to architect a subscription-based privacy-forward user-data exchange;

  • Support for Mozilla’s Global Consent Manager, incubated at ITEGA.

Why it Matters: Consumers want privacy. Advertisers want better options that tackle ad fraud and create a better user experience. Publishers are fighting for survival in the current ecosystem. A better solution that benefits all stakeholders is long overdue.

For More:


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