For almost one week now, the ad industry has been digesting the revelations that the National Security Agency is engaging in widespread surveillance of communications. It's still too soon to know whether news of the NSA's initiative will lead to a push for new online privacy laws. But some ad industry executives are already expressing concern.
Cable companies and telecoms apparently are so spooked by the prospect of cord-cutting that they're now paying media companies to withhold shows from technology companies that offer online video, Bloomberg reports today.
Search engine Duck Duck Go, browser developer Mozilla and social news site Reddit are among dozens of Web companies and civil rights groups who are calling on Congress to immediately put an end to the National Security Agency's practice of scooping up data about people's communications.
The recent revelations that tech companies are sharing information about users with the National Security Agency raises a host of unanswered questions, but one of the most pressing for the ad industry is whether the news will intensify efforts to regulate how tech companies can collect and use data.
A broad array of outside organizations is aligning themselves against the Authors Guild in its lawsuit against the universities who worked with Google to digitize books. This week alone, groups ranging from digital rights organizations to law professors to library associations to medical researchers have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of the HathiTrust -- a joint digital storage project of several universities.
The Federal Communications Commission will vote at the end of this month about whether to issue new rules requiring wireless carriers to better protect consumers' personal information -- including data about who they call, how long they talk, and geolocation.
Federal Trade Commission member Maureen Ohlhausen reiterated her view that restricting companies from collecting data about consumers could harm online ad startups. Speaking at a conference of the trade group Digital Advertising Alliance, Ohlhausen said that "reducing the flow of information in the marketplace" could impose barriers to entry by precluding new companies from "obtaining valuable information that incumbents already possess."
The so-called "Internet of Things" has drawn the attention of the Federal Trade Commission, which recently announced plans to hold a workshop examining privacy and security issues surrounding the concept. Some consumer advocates say the FTC's move isn't coming a moment too soon.
AOL can finally close the chapter on one of the worst privacy breaches of the last decade: the company's decision to publicly release users' search queries. U.S. District Court Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria, Va. late last month approved a deal that calls for the company to pay around $5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over the data breach.