PRIVACY BEAT: IAB seeks non-member input as it weighs ideas for rethinking advertising technology

Privacy Beat

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IAB seeks non-member input as it weighs ideas for rethinking advertising technology; working with W3C; sets webinars for March 26 and 31

The IAB Lab, a technology standards-issuing arm of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, is launching a series of listening sessions, open to non-members as well as members, as it seeks ideas for rethinking how advertisements are managed and presented on the web. And its leadership says it is prepared to work in collaboration with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

“All ad tech systems supporting the ad industry will need to be retooled,” the IAB Lab declared in a slide presentation to more than 100 people — some 80 watching online — at a quarterly meeting in New York. 

The first webinars are set for Thursday, March 26 and Tuesday, March 31, both from noon to 1 p.m., focusing on understanding “how we got to where we are today.” Subsequent sessions will discuss what the end of the third-party cookie — the end of cross-site identity tracking as it has been engineered — means to publishers, and agencies and brands.

“We are very focused on being privacy-centric,” added Dennis Buchheim, the lab’s president. He said IAB also wants to encourage standards that are global in scope and “transparent.”

Other executives argued for a collaborative approach with IAB. If individual companies try to “do it themselves’ the result will be “we’re going to rely even more on the walled gardens,” said Angelina Eng, the tech lab’s vice president of measurement and attribution. She called for agencies and brands to be involved. “For me, it is advocating everyone’s participation.”

What is sought, is a  “suitable alternative to cookies, not more cookies,” said Jordan Mitchell, IAB Lab’s SVP for privacy, identity and data. “We’re collaborating with the browser makers and with the W3C,” he said, with the hope, in part, that identity solutions will work across all browsers. He said what is emerging is an “authenticated user model.”  He said the IAB Tech Lab involves 700 companies who represent more than 2,000 engineers.

In answer to a question, Buchheim took note of the “Authenticated Traffic Solution” being fielded for managing user identity by LiveRamp (former Acxiom).  He called it “a good example of a proprietary commercial offering.” He continued that he hoped LiveRamp “weighs in and would adapt to standards.”

Another questioner asked how to avoid coming up with a new system that just renames a cross-site tracking method as something other than a “cookie”.  “There has to be some sort of mandate from the IAB saying a percentage amount of data has to come from all the walled gardens and any of the stakeholders so it is in the interest of everybody in the industry to be transparent,” the questioner said.

Replied Mitchell: “To your point, it is a failure if we just continue to innovate workarounds that just get squashed by the next release of the browser or operating platform.”


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In Knight essay, Zuckerman broaches “surveillant ad tax” data portability as part of pro-civic web infrastructure

An essayist for the Knight First Amendment Institute suggests mandated personal data portability, geographic- or topic-specific social networks, new revenue technologies and even considers a one-percent tax on “surveillant” advertising as solutions to replace the web’s current programmatic-advertising, attention-economy business model.

“How well this targeted advertising works is a matter for debate,” writes Ethan Zuckerman, director of the MIT Center for Civic Media, in an essay entitled, “The Case for the Digital Public Infrastructure.” A “Public Interest Media Endowment” could be supported by a tax on some of the estimated $200.3 billion in advertising sold by just three platforms — Google, Facebook and Alibaba. Such an endowment should feature participatory governance and be reviewable and auditable by the public.

Zuckerman points to laws which required U.S. telecoms to allow consumers to “port” their phone number between carriers.  Similarly, he notes legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner that would mandate some personal-data portability. Even more useful, Zuckerman suggests, might be a requirement for platforms such as Google and Facebook to offer open APIs that allow their users to use and withdraw, share and remix data about themselves freely with other services. (See Quote of the Week, below).




Hopes dim for U.S. data-privacy law after GOP negotiator is quoted saying he sees “no path forward at the moment”

Bloomberg Law quoted U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., as saying Democrats and Republicans have reached an impasse in the Senate that may kill prospects for federal data-privacy legislation anytime soon. That would mean that businesses will have to assume the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is the dominant regulatory framework in the United States for the foreseeable future.

“We continue to be hopeful, but at this point, there isn’t any path forward at the moment,” Bloomberg Law quoted Thune as saying.  He has been serving as the GOP lead in negotiations on a bill. The difference of opinion continues to be over whether individuals should have the right to sue companies over privacy violations — rather than leaving enforcement up to the Federal Trade Commission, a new federal agency, or to state attorneys general.  Leading Democrats also don’t want a federal law to pre-empt or be weaker than the CCPA.

Just this week, in Washington state, House lawmakers added a private right of action provision to a data-privacy bill under consideration there. The Washington Privacy Action (2SSB 6281) then passed a House committee, 6-3-0.






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New social media will need “technical advances around single sign on” not reliant on Facebook or Google

“A wave of pro-civic, social-media communities requires both technical advances around single sign-on (to make it easy to join and manage communities without relying on Google or Facebook for login services), aggregation (to build a single client), a social media browser, (that allows users to access all of their networks in one place), and interoperability (to ensure that networks can create new kinds of content while still enabling aggregators to read these new content types), and changes in legal frameworks.”

– Ethan Zuckerman, of the MIT Center for Civic Media, in an essay posted to the Knight First Amendment Institute website entitled, “The Case for Digital Public Infrastructure.”


Privacy Beat is a weekly email update from the Information Trust Exchange Governing Association in service to its mission. Links and brief reports are compiled, summarized or analyzed by Bill Densmore and Eva Tucker.  Submit links and ideas for coverage to

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