Trade Desk and LiveRamp move to consolidate identity; what of publishers’ role; are advertisers complacent?

Privacy Beat

Your weekly privacy news update.


Trade Desk and LiveRamp move to consolidate identity; what of publishers role; are advertisers complacent?

Is the advertising-technology industry closing ranks, attempting to seize control of user identity for advertising purposes, in competition with Google and Facebook and in an effort to end-run privacy efforts of Apple Inc.? Could it succeed?

In June, the IAB Tech Lab gave up on its DigiTrust ID token idea.  This week, ad-tech giants The Trade Desk and LiveRamp jointly declared they would begin collaborating to allow user data linked to each of their identity systems to cross-pollinate each other in the ad-bidding process.

Still not obvious — any effort controlled either by publishers or by the public to manage identity and therefore privacy.  The background on the situation was reported for Privacy Beat in July 2019 and updated in June of this year.

“When LiveRamp and TradeDesk say they have partnered, what is basically going to happen now is they will say to publishers if you don’t sync on this thing you are not going to get any traffic,” one ad-tech industry insider told Privacy Beat this week. “Advertisers are complacent at worst and complicit at best.”

In announcing their collaboration, The Trade Desk said it developed initial product code for its Unified ID 2.0 “to be non-commercial, open-source, interoperable, and administered by an independent organization.” It’s not clear of this refers to the Advertising ID Consortium That independent organization, formed in 2017 is a Delaware corporation, whose board was initially populated by representatives of ad tech.

The Information Trust Exchange Governing Association, which publishes Privacy Beat, has been working with the Local Media Consortium and others to advance a shared-user network for trust, identity, privacy and information commerce. ITEGA is a nonprofit 501(c)3 California public-benefit corporation.



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Ashkan Soltani (quoted below)


Weighing Prop 24 impact on privacy, advertising; Soltani explains reason for price flexibility

With most observers predicting approval of Prop 24 next week on California’s election ballot, privacy, publishing, platform and ad-tech interests are starting to plan how they’ll respond to a law which, even though it won’t take full effect until Jan. 1, 2023, is forcing fundamental changes in web advertising and data practices.

Prop 24 — the California Privacy Rights Act — revealed a schism within the privacy lobby, with Consumer Reports (CR) deciding at the last minute to support Prop 24 at the same time the California ACLU emphasized its opposition.   The pro-Prop 24 forces released a chart comparing its provisions to the current California Consumer Privacy Act and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.

The key fault line appears to be whether publishers and others that use consumer data should be allowed to increase prices, withhold services or offer loyalty credits depending on whether a consumer is willing to share personal information.  CR  thinks in balance setting up a “marketplace” that values personal data could be useful; the ACLU and others see it as discrimination against the poor.

“Experts say it will have a big impact on common ways advertisers reach audiences,” writes Kate Kaye in her anticipating-Prop 24-approval story for The Drum. At issue, her account concludes, is what the ad-tech industry will do about a prohibition not only on “sale” but on “sharing” of consumer data without explicit permission.

According to Kaye’s account, penalizing ad-tech players who grab data from the bidstream without giving consumers the chance to opt-out  seems like low hanging fruit for the new California enforcement agency Prop 24. That’s according to Chris Pedigo, svp for governmental affairs at the publisher trade group Digital Content Next, quoted by Kaye.

One of the co-authors of both the CCPA and Prop 24 is Ashkan Soltani, a former Federal Trade  Commission and White House technologist. He explained in an interview with The Markup’s Julia Angwin this week he feared prohibiting flexible pricing right now would hurt publishers.

“The idea is that if you go to a website, the advocates would want the site to still provide you service even though it can’t monetize your information,” Soltani told Angwin. “That would mean that the only news sites and publishers that could stay in business are the ones that have alternative funding—such as from the Koch brothers or Peter Thiel.” He continued: “In the long run, I think incentivizing businesses to employ alternative ‘privacy friendly’ ways to monetize content is a good idea, but we’re not there yet. Doing it today would mean that most of the publishers we rely on today would have to give their content away for free or shut down—and with the death spiral the news media is already in, I think that would have profoundly negative effects on society.”

(click to enlarge)




Tech investor-pundit wonders if industry initiatives can avoid sole power of Google, Facebook and big publishers

British-based tech-industry investors/pundit Benedict Evans‘ weekly email newsletter looked this week at the crosscurrents of antitrust and privacy regulation and wondered whether the resolution of both may make Facebook, Google, the Guardian and the New York Times among the only entities that can “personalize” advertising.

The $250-billion online advertising business hangs in the balance, says Evans, a former venture capitalist with Silicon Valley’s Andreessen Horowitz who is now with Entrepreneur First, the London-headquartered talent investor.

On the one had, Evans writes, anti-monopoly regulators want to require platforms to open up data and make it portable.  On the other, privacy activists want more control for the public over its personal information.  Will “one or the other of various industry data initiatives work” to find a balance, he asks? Or, he wonders, will Apple mount a generalized identity or interest platform?

“Telling people about things they might like or be interested has value, and it isn’t actually evil a priori, but if you can’t ‘track’ people across the web anymore, how do you do that?” Evans asks. “And how do you reconcile that with wanting more competition to Google or Amazon? I hope that the answer is not that the only companies that can do interest-based ads are Google and Facebook on one hand and brands with their own huge audiences and data such as the Guardian or New York Times on the other.”




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European Parliament gives clear language signals that it wants to crack down on targeting, non-consent

Targeted advertising and and unauthorized use of users’ personal data without permission are clearly in the crosshairs of the European Parliament strategists, based on new documents released in mid-October and reported this week by Gyn Moody of Privacy News Onliine (See: “EU politicians want Europe’s next big digital law to outlaw ad microtargetting”)

Moody’s piece points to resolutions adopted by the EP on Oct. 20.  While not laws, they reflect the views of a super-majority of the delegates who voted on them. Some examples:

“Notes that since the online activities of an individual allow for deep insights into their personality and make it possible to manipulate them, the general and indiscriminate collection of personal data concerning every use of a digital service interferes disproportionately with the right to privacy and protection of personal data; highlights, in particular, the potential negative impact of micro-targeted and behavioral advertisements and of assessment of individuals . . . “ (at Page 6, item No. 9)

And: “[I]s of the view that the use of targeted advertising must be regulated more strictly in favour of less intrusive forms of advertising that do not require any tracking of user interaction with content and that being shown behavioural advertising should be conditional on users’ freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous consent . . . . “  (at Item No. 15)






Consumer Reports survey finds 45% of Americans might be willing to pay for online privacy; want sharing contro

  “Privacy is not the opposite of sharing personal information; rather, it is control over sharing. There are real benefits to sharing data, but consumers consistently report feeling a lack of agency and control over their data. According to a recent Pew survey, just 9% of people believe they have “a lot of control” over the information that is collected about them, even as 74% say “it is very important to be in control.” Privacy is highly contextual and involves a complex set of trade-offs that can mix tangible, intangible, and abstract qualities. Privacy attitudes and privacy behavior are grouped too often.

Forty-five percent of American consumers indicated a potential willingness to pay for online privacy. Privacy and security present sizable and rapidly growing opportunities Consumer focus on privacy and security is rising. Data privacy and security can be a point of beneficial product differentiation. Benefits may come in the form of pricing power, profitability, market share, goodwill, talent attraction, or others.

Cultural and societal attitudes towards data privacy have irreversibly shifted. 100+ privacy and data governance-related laws introduced at state and federal levels since the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act. These laws could ultimately disrupt data-driven business models that rely upon the monetization of personal data.”


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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