Privacy Beat

Your weekly privacy news update.

Privacy taking center stage?

The executive suites at Google, Facebook and Apple, like it or not, are now talking publicly about privacy and their products. Browser software is being adjusted to listen better to consumer privacy preferences — and deprecate the excesses of third-party cookies. The FTC is considering a multi-billion-dollar fine against Facebook. And stories are emerging that Congress might be able to forge a bipartisan consensus on digital privacy.  We’re trying to keep you up to date on these trends weekly with Privacy Beat. Here’s this week’s edition.

Got suggestions for leads to pursue? Email

1.  Recent Congressional Hearings on Data Privacy

What it is: On Tuesday the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs met for a hearing on privacy rights and data collection. On Wednesday the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce met to discuss the role the FTC plays in strengthening protections for Americans’ privacy and data security. Last week, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation held a hearing on Consumer Perspectives: Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework.

Why it matters: After the EU’s GDPR legislation passed last year several states passed their own legislation in the absence of any U.S. federal regulation. Fast forward to the past few months and federal lawmakers have steadily held privacy related hearings, and multiple members of Congress have proposed privacy legislation. The FTC called on Congress to create a national privacy law and to strengthen their ability to police violations.

And/But: There are areas that legislators agree on and other areas drawing debate. One major outstanding issue is if new federal regulations will preempt state legislation that has already been passed. In a May 8 hearing, the five U.S. Federal Trade Commission members were divided on how severely to punish Facebook for the Cambridge Analytica breach, which will set a precedent for how to handle other breaches and privacy violations.

For more:

2.  “Privacy in itself has become a crisis,” says Apple CEO Tim Cook.

What it is: In a recent interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, Tim Cook shared his concerns related to consumer data privacy and screen time. He saw the situation as “fixable” and pushed for comprehensive federal privacy legislation.

Why it matters: Apple iPhones make up about 45% of smartphones in the United States and they are staking out a position as a privacy patron.  

And/But: Because they don’t get much money from advertising, Apple doesn’t benefit from collecting user data. This affects the ad experience they are able to offer through Apple News and for publishers revenue from the platform has so far been disappointing. Collectively, this leaves publishers with more questions than answers on how their revenue will be impacted by changing privacy regulations and tech platforms.

For More:

3. Publishers Prepare for an Anti-Tracking-Dominant Future

What it is: There are reports that Google Chrome is joining Apple and Mozilla in creating anti-tracking updates to their browser. Ex-Googler and Guardian consultant Dave Gehring, tweeted a prediction. He said if all browser software moves to block third-party cookies; “ …. the market for consent based first-party data will emerge like a phoenix from the ashes of ad tech animating and ushering in a new era for quality web content monetization.”

Why it matters: Given Google’s market share of online advertising, this could have a huge impact on publishers and advertisers as it is rolled out.  Publishers fear short term consequences in that it will be harder for advertisers to track conversions. In the long term first-party data will be key to creating meaningful ad experiences for advertisers and consumers.

And/But: This signals another push away from the current reliance on third-party cookies within programmatic advertising. Many publishers are looking to ID consortiums for solutions to addressing the shift. Joining with Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox, these stories suggest Google’s Chrome will make some moves to respect users’ privacy preferences. But how far can Google go without hurting their own ad business? And if they only hurt competitors’ ad businesses, will they invoke antitrust scrutiny? This bears watching.

For more:

4. Class Action Suit Filed Against AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-mobile for Selling Location Data

What it is: In January Vice’s Motherboard reported that major telecom companies had sold customer’s real-time location data, which was then resold to bounty hunters and others giving them the ability to geolocate nearly any phone in the United States. Now a Maryland plaintiff’s lawyer, Corey L. Zajdel,  in a class-action lawsuit, is poking at the giant telecoms over their alleged practice of selling individuals users’ location data to third parties.

Why it matters: Between the four companies, nearly 400 million individual customers between April 30, 2015 and February 15, 2019 are covered in the lawsuits and the lawsuits are only part of the heat they are under. After Motherboard’s January article, several Senators asked the FTC and FCC to investigate. Last week FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel demanded answers on how the data was saved and what steps are being taken to ensure it is deleted.

And/But: This is yet another major breach in data privacy for policymakers to consider in shaping upcoming legislation.

For more:

5. Business Roundtable VP Denise Zheng Outlined the Consumer Privacy Rights they are Pushing for in Congress

What it is: Business Roundtable is an association of CEOs of major U.S. companies that presented a suggested framework for federal consumer data legislation in December that was developed by a working group of chief privacy officers.

Why it matters: American business is starting to worry about privacy. The group is advocating for providing consumers with a guaranteed set of individual rights over their personal data and transparency in how their data is collected, used, and shared. They expressed that it is critical to companies that privacy legislation is consistent and predictable.

And/But: Corporate America doesn’t usually push for more regulation, but new laws in Europe and several U.S. states make it clear that it will be happening with or without them. They definitely want to be part of the conversation.

For more:


Regulation in Europe after GDPR is still evolving.

Emarketer rounds up latest surveys on whether the public really cares about privacy.

Columbia University’s Emily Bell considers the effectiveness of psychographic targeting in advertising, and worries about its ethical implications.

Related to Emily’s thesis:  The New York Times — “These ads think they know you.”

Ex-Googler Dipayan Ghosh writes in the Harvard Business Review about the “new digital social contract” that is being forced by events upon Facebook and others.

Is privacy the new digital divide?  That’s what Stephane Lavoie writes in an opinion piece on Medium. He cites the 1890 essay “The Right to Privacy” to make his argument.

Like what you see? Then subscribe!

The proceeds from subscriptions will go to benefit ITEGA’s mission to foster a digital marketplace that respects privacy and identity.




Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.