program areas Digital Citizen

  • Washington, DC (March 6, 2017): The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Common Sense Kids Action, Consumer Action and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reject industry requests to rescind the FCC’s broadband privacy rules, as this would leave parents effectively without any tools to protect their children’s privacy on broadband Internet Service Provider networks (ISPs). The groups warned that any attempts to modify the privacy rule would significantly weaken the privacy protections for children. The filing to the FCC was drafted by the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center (IPR). In October 2016, the Federal Communications Commission adopted ground-breaking privacy rules protecting the personal information of broadband internet service customers, including children. The FCC rules set limits on what internet service providers may do with the highly sensitive data that they collect in the course of providing internet service. These rules were intended to give consumers and parents the tools they need to make informed decisions about how their information, or the information of their children, is used by their ISP. Most significantly, the rules require ISPs to obtain opt-in approval for use and sharing of sensitive customer personal information for purposes other than providing broadband service. “Sensitive” information includes precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications. In their filing, the advocates oppose petitions filed by ISPs, including Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner, that ask the FCC to reconsider its broadband privacy Order. The advocates explain in their filing with the FCC: Treating children’s information as sensitive and requiring notice and opt-in consent is necessary to protect children and is consistent with the FTC’s practices. This aspect of the rules is necessary, although not sufficient to protect children’s privacy. All web browsing and application usage histories must be treated as sensitive information because children's information is mixed with that of adults. In order to protect children from targeted advertising, all users' browsing and application histories must receive protection as such histories reveal traits, characteristics, likes, and dislikes. Marketers, who are intensely interested in targeting children and adolescents, would have a much greater ability to take unfair advantage of children, without these rules in place. The FCC should retain opt-in requirements for use of all categories of sensitive information, such as for web browsing and application usage histories. Since this data is inextricably intertwined with adult activities, any required additional sorting of this data into sensitive and non-sensitive data would inevitably lead to further erosion of privacy of all ISP users. Most Americans are oblivious to modern day big data practices and to the resulting potential risks to themselves or society at large. When it comes to vulnerable children it must be the obligation of ISPs to make a convincing case to parents that opting into the ISP’s data practices is in the best interest of their children. The following can be attributed to Katharina Kopp, Deputy Director, Center for Digital Democracy: The FCC Privacy Rules protect the fundamental rights of children to enjoy privacy and freedom from age-inappropriate commercial exploitation. Any attempts to weaken these rules is an attempt to leave parents and their children defenseless against powerful corporate interests. Digital food marketing of unhealthy foods to children and teens, for example, has contributed to an obesity epidemic that harms us all. This is unfair, unjust and not in the public interest. We call on the FCC to implement the Privacy Order in its entirety without any delay. The following can be attributed to Josh Golin, Executive Director, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood This is a crucial test for the FCC. Will the Commission insist that parents have a right to protect their children’s privacy online? Or will the FCC aid and abet the ISP’s efforts to build digital marketing profiles of vulnerable children? We call on the Commission to do the right thing and implement the Privacy Order. The following statement can be attributed to Linda Sherry, Director of National Priorities, Consumer Action: Consumer Action opposes efforts to rescind the FCC’s broadband privacy rules, which would jeopardize the privacy of all internet service customers and strip them of the right to assert control over their sensitive information including geo-location, financial, health, etc. We join the Center for Digital Democracy in highlighting the potential harm to children, a highly vulnerable and defenseless population that has gained important new rights under the rule, which specifically recognizes the sensitivity of children’s information. The Center for Digital Democracy is a leading nonprofit organization focused on empowering and protecting the rights of the public in the digital era. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood support parents’ efforts to raise healthy families by limiting commercial access to children. Consumer Action empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers nationwide to prosper through education and advocacy. EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, DC, established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, freedom of expression, and democratic values in the information age.
  • The Center of Digital Democracy joins 28 other media and social justice, consumer protection, civil liberties and privacy groups, asking the FCC to implement its broadband privacy rules and to reject industry calls to repeal the Order.
  • Blog

    Americans Win Significant Broadband Privacy Rights in Historic FCC Decision

    Consumers should now have greater control of their information in today’s “Big Data” era

    Statement of Jeff Chester, executive director, Center for Digital Democracy October 27, 2016: The Federal Communications Commission, led by Chairman Tom Wheeler, delivered a very early Christmas present to Americans today. For the first time, the public will be guaranteed that when they use broadband to connect to the Internet, whether on a mobile device or personal computer, they will have the ability to decide whether and how much of their information can be gathered and used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) without first getting their consent. This is a tremendous public interest breakthrough for privacy rights in the U.S., which lags behind nearly every other democracy when it comes to protecting online privacy. Today’s decision (link is external) provides a new crucial consumer protection safeguard. When consumers use a mobile app or engage in search, that information cannot be stealthily monitored and used by their ISP without a person first agreeing it can do so (known as opt-in). Such information is classified by the commission as “sensitive” data and triggers a set of rights for the consumer. The new rule is a critical building block for better protecting our privacy in this period of growing commercial surveillance, and should significantly curtail the ability of ISPs to stealthily monitor our activities. The handful of phone and cable giants that dominate the broadband telecommunications market are increasingly using sophisticated data-mining techniques to track and analyze their customers, whether at home or—via a mobile phone—on the go. This new rule will help ensure that a consumer’s most personal information—about their finances, health, geo-location, children—will not be swept into this far-reaching apparatus. Safeguards to prevent unfair “pay-for-privacy” schemes are also part of this new FCC order—and we expect the commission to be vigilant to make sure consumers aren’t forced, because of financial circumstances, to give up their privacy. The 3-2 vote is also a rejection of the intense lobbying conducted by the phone and cable lobby, as well as by other Internet giants, to effectively kill the plan. They aggressively lobbied to weaken the FCC’s proposal, disingenuously arguing that the commission should merely adopt the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy regime. They preferred the FTC’s approach because it doesn’t have any real legal teeth, and has allowed Internet giants to freely gather and use our data without any regard to our privacy. One reason that Americans face a crisis today in terms of their loss of privacy is because the FTC has been prevented from having the regulatory authority to actually protect the public. The very same companies calling for its approach have tirelessly worked to undermine its authority, in Congress and the courts.CDD would have preferred an earlier version of the commission’s privacy proposal that didn’t make distinctions between sensitive and non-sensitive data. This is a concept that is increasingly irrelevant today, because of technological advances in “Big Data” analytics and the massive growth of consumer data across all devices, where innocuous data can be used to generate highly personal and sensitive details. But today’s FCC decision is a critical advance in protecting our information. This decision sets the stage for a long-overdue debate on the need also to protect the privacy of Americans who use other online services, including Google and Facebook. It sets a critically new privacy baseline, which should lead to action by Congress that provides strong privacy protections for all of us, regardless of the devices or online services we use. These rules also need to be applied to any plans by AT&T and Time Warner to expand their commercial data activities under their proposed merger. Finally, this victory would not have been possible without the FCC’s Open Internet decision (network neutrality). That triggered this privacy review, so that long-standing privacy safeguards when we use our telephones was brought up to date. A truly open and democratic Internet requires one that incorporates robust privacy safeguards. Today’s decision is step one in helping achieve that important goal.
  • Blog

    need-to-know 1084

    AT&T: “cross-device connections allow AT&T to understand that a single user is accessing AT&T services from multiple devices, and to synchronize content and advertising messages across those devices....”We have data coming from 35 million set-top boxes...There’s a long list of people we partner with, like Experian, Acxiom, Kantar and Polk."

    excerpt from recent interview (link is external)with Rick Welday, president of AT&T AdWorks, 13 October 2016. ...AT&T is doubling down to understand the network effect of its merged mobile carrier and pay TV footprint. And it plans to up its investment in video programming by acquiring more of the content supply chain...Cross-screen targeting is also a big imperative. AT&T just completed a series of targeting pilots to measure the impact of addressable TV ads served to 14 million AT&T-DirecTV households and 30 million associated devices….AT&T has the opportunity to be the first fully integrated carrier in the United States. You’re taking a large MVPD, pay-TV provider and a scaled mobile and broadband business and bringing them together, and that’s unique. Today, we help advertisers place an ad based on interest or demographics in any one of 14 million households regardless of what they’re watching or when, whether it’s live or on playback. ...When the DirecTV merger completed, we had 12 million addressable households. We’re now [at] nearly 14 million. For us to have grown addressable households by 2 million shows our commitment. Out of those 14 million homes, we can identify about 30 million devices that are associated and help marketers identify their target audience across them without sharing personally identifiable information. Do you have a data management platform that would help you track consumer movement? We have data coming from 35 million set-top boxes, so we have incredible first-party data capabilities. We have to have a deep technical ability and transparency with our clients about where and when the ads get placed. Clients are more interested in making sure the ad gets to their targeted audience, but we still share information about the content and day part where the ad fired. Usually the client connects their data to a safe haven, where we’d [also include] our inventory and see where there’s overlap. Then we’d render the ads. There’s a long list of people we partner with, like Experian, Acxiom, Kantar and Polk. Where do you see the most opportunity for AT&T’s mobile data subscriber set? Will it, for instance, help close the loop between location, the in-store purchase and TV viewership? Right now we’re not using data from our mobile customers, but we’re well aware of the opportunity for them to consume more video solutions and advertising within our developing video services. We’re very excited about our ability to monetize through advertising within our mobile base. How that evolves, there’s nothing further we’d forecast or announce right now. Who is AT&T’s biggest competitor right now? Is it other telcos or are you keeping an eye on platforms with a large, logged-in user base like Facebook? There’s no question Facebook and Google are competitors. There is no shortage of options for advertisers. Everybody knows a lot of money is moving to the digital space. I think, for us, when we look at wwhere the growth is, it’s clearly going toward targeted, more audience-based advertising. Even in digital, growth is not riding on the backs of display or search advertising. It’s coming from mobile video. AT&T, having acquired DirecTV with the stated purpose of being an integrated carrier that specializes and leads and innovates in mobile video, that’s a good thing for us….When the DirecTV merger completed, we had 12 million addressable households. We’re now [at] nearly 14 million. For us to have grown addressable households by 2 million shows our commitment. Out of those 14 million homes, we can identify about 30 million devices that are associated and help marketers identify their target audience across them without sharing personally identifiable information. Excerpt 2: (link is external) The cross-device implications of an AT&T/Time Warner hookup are also clear: massive reach, distribution and data. It claims to have 141.8 million wireless customers in the US and Mexico, 15.6 million internet connections and 45.5 million video connections across DirecTV and U-verse. “It’s a significant audience, especially when you bring DirecTV into the mix, being able to use that data and that deterministic linking for more relevant messaging across all of those different sources, both owned-and-operated, and being able to take that outside of O&O across multiple channels and screen,” said Adelphic CEO Michael Collins. Both AT&T and Time Warner have deterministic user data across a wide array of channels. “They have it through DirecTV, they have it through AT&T’s ISP and AT&T’s television service and they have it through Time Warner’s wide distribution,” Collins said. “That’s sticky content and a very broad audience, and it’s all done on a deterministic basis, which makes it pretty powerful. I don’t know if you’d say it’s unique, but it’s certainly highly differentiated.” AT&T is already schooled in the ways of cross-device. Its privacy policy very clearly states that it uses both Tapad and Drawbridge “to establish connections between a user’s devices and to provide behavioral targeting across devices,” noting that “cross-device connections allow AT&T to understand that a single user is accessing AT&T services from multiple devices, and to synchronize content and advertising messages across those devices.” It’s only logical that AT&T will take its cross-device program to the next level with Time Warner on board. “One would have to imagine that Time Warner and AT&T are looking to bring content and distribution together for seamless distribution and content across screens,” Collins said. “But marketing and advertising are evolving as well, and the potential combination of Time Warner and AT&T would give them knowledge, insight and the ability to deliver highly relevant advertising on behalf of advertisers.”
  • Blog

    CDD Statement on AT&T/Time Warner Deal

    "Big Data" driven merger raises threats to consumers, subscribers and competitors as mega-giant will gather our data from PCs, mobile devices and TVs

    This proposed deal raises major challenges for consumers, subscribers and competitors. It reflects the “Big Data” and digitally data-driven imperatives that are reshaping the U.S. media system. Giant broadband ISP networks, such as AT&Ts, and content providers as Time Warner, want to join together to both deliver programming and continually gather a host of information about each and every consumer. A new stranglehold is being placed on our communications landscape, as already dominant cable and telephone monopolies devour former partners or competitors (Verizon/AOL/and now Yahoo!, for example). This is all about tracking and targeting us regardless of whether we use a mobile device, PC or TV. Through the growing capability of mobile phones to follow and geo-target us everywhere we go—the supermarket, while in a car, or even on the street, these new broadband ISP/mobile/TV giants are extending their powerful digital tentacles further into our lives. While some programmers and large advertisers will benefit, the deal raises a host of consumer concerns, including about privacy. It’s no surprise that AT&T is bitterly opposed to the privacy safeguards up for a vote this coming Thursday at the FCC. They don’t want any potential new rules that empower consumers to control what they hope will be a massive influx of data they plan to monetize. Today’s announcement underscores why the FCC should pass Chairman Wheeler’s plan. Antitrust and consumer protection regulators must use a 21st Century framework that ensures that the public has a fair, diverse and equitable digital media system. Those companies that control our data--as well as the devices and applications we rely on (especially mobile)--will be formidable gatekeepers. They will be able to influence the content and communications we both receive and send. It's not to far out to see the next deal be Google/Comcast or AT&T/Time Warner/Facebook. AT&T's recent buying spree, including DirecTV (link is external), gives it a formidable cross-screen presence. As one of the handful of dominant broadband Internet Service Providers, it provides critical network connections to millions of Americans, as well as multichannel video service. It is investing to expand this empire, including video streaming (link is external) and the Internet of Things (link is external). Now it will have both Big Data and Bug Bunny, as well as HBO, CNN and a myrid of other properties. All to lure us to sit back, subscribe, view, interact with the ads on all our devices, engage with branded experiences and--yes--for this even bigger digital giant to gather and sell off our data on behalf of big brands and vested interests. statement of Jeff Chester, executive director
    Jeff Chester
  • Blog

    need-to-know 1082

    Turner Broadcasting Aligns with Epsilon, Krux and Oracle to Power New Turner Data Cloud and Turner Premium Marketplace

    Turner Broadcasting [Time Warner] (link is external) is partnering with Epsilon, Krux and Oracle to enable advertisers and their agencies to connect to the Turner Data Cloud (TDC), the company’s advanced data management platform (DMP) originally announced at the company’s Upfront last month. Through these advanced third-party targeting capabilities along with Turner’s own proprietary data sources, TDC will aggregate and analyze first-and third-party data to provide advertisers, agencies and Turner itself more effective methods to reach and engage target audiences. “We are joining forces with industry-leading data and technology companies to power the Turner Premium Marketplace powered by an unrivaled central repository of data,” said Stephano Kim, Chief Data Strategist, Turner Broadcasting. “Fueling multi-screen ecosystems, Turner Premium Marketplace will enable our sales divisions to take their client conversations to a new level of insight and strategy to more effectively execute advertising campaigns across Turner’s portfolio. Brands advertising on Turner properties now have the enhanced ability to reach the most appropriate and desirable audiences across all user experiences wrapped in our premium content.” The Turner Premium Marketplace includes both digital and linear advertising campaigns across the company’s portfolio of entertainment, news, sports and kids brands. Advertisers and their agencies can choose to transact directly and programmatically depending on their unique campaign goals and business objectives. Through the Turner Data Cloud, advertisers can harness the power of their first party data in addition to third party data to effectively engage consumers and reach the right audience across Turner – a portfolio spanning television, digital and mobile platforms that reaches approximately 75% of all Americans. In addition to providing stronger advertising solutions, TDC will allow for better personalized consumer experiences across Turner’s own multiscreen brand destinations. “Turner Broadcasting is at the forefront of the evolution of content distribution,” said Andy Frawley, chief executive officer of Epsilon. “To enable the strongest possible brand experience for a consumer, it is imperative to leverage the power and value of data to drive marketing, advertising and programming to better connect the consumer’s experience and engagement. We look forward to leveraging our full suite of Big Data capabilities to support the Turner Data Cloud.” "The Turner Data Cloud is another industry-leading move by Turner, and we're proud that Krux's real-time DMP is at the center of this solution,” said Krux CEO Tom Chavez. "Through Krux, Turner is unifying people data across all channels and employing unparalleled identity management to activate highly specific audiences across linear and digital campaigns. What’s more, with Krux’s iterative learning capabilities, Turner advertisers can apply real-time campaign optimizations to drive higher conversions.” "Oracle Data Cloud is thrilled to collaborate with Turner to help their clients understand more about consumers based on what they do, say, and buy, enabling them to personalize and measure every customer interaction in order to maximize the value of their digital marketing,” said Omar Tawakol, GM of Oracle Data Cloud. "Our relationship with Turner will allow their clients to spend confidently knowing that their ads can be reliably delivered to the right consumer across screens." About Epsilon and Alliance Data About Epsilon Epsilon is the global leader in creating connections between people and brands. An all-encompassing global marketing company, we harness the power of rich data, groundbreaking technologies, engaging creative and transformative ideas to get the results our clients require. Recognized by Ad Age as the #1 World CRM/Direct Marketing Network, #1 U.S. Digital Agency Network and #1 U.S. Agency from All Disciplines, Epsilon employs over 7,000 associates in 70 offices worldwide. Epsilon is an Alliance Data (link is external) company. For more information, visit (link is external), follow us on Twitter @ (link is external)EpsilonMktg (link is external) or call 1.800.309.0505. About Alliance Data Alliance Data (link is external)® (NYSE: ADS) is a leading global provider of data-driven marketing and loyalty solutions serving large, consumer-based industries. The Company creates and deploys customized solutions, enhancing the critical customer marketing experience; the result is measurably changing consumer behavior while driving business growth and profitability for some of today's most recognizable brands. Alliance Data helps its clients create and increase customer loyalty through solutions that engage millions of customers each day across multiple touch points using traditional, digital, mobile and emerging technologies. An S&P 500 company headquartered in Plano, Texas, Alliance Data consists of three businesses that together employ more than 15,000 associates at approximately 100 locations worldwide. Alliance Data’s Card Services (link is external) business is a leading provider of marketing-driven branded credit card programs. Epsilon (link is external)® is a leading provider of multichannel, data-driven technologies and marketing services, and also includes Conversant (link is external), the leader in personalized digital marketing. LoyaltyOne (link is external)® owns and operates the AIR MILES (link is external)® Reward Program, Canada's premier coalition loyalty program, and holds a majority interest in Netherlands-based BrandLoyalty (link is external), a global provider of tailor-made loyalty programs for grocers.
  • News

    Federal Trade Commission Must Stop “Influencer” Marketing Targeting Kids on YouTube and Other Digital Sites

    Complaint Filed Against Unfair and Deceptive Practices Used by Google, Disney’s Maker Studios, DreamWorks-Owned AwesomenessTV, and Other Companies, by Leading Advocacy Groups

    The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and Public Citizen filed a complaint at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today asking for an investigation and enforcement action against Google (a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc.), Disney’s Maker Studios, DreamWorks-owned AwesomenessTV, and two other companies for the unfair and deceptive practice of targeting “influencer” marketing toward children. The complaint documents how several marketing companies—Collab Creators, Wild Brain, Maker Studios, and AwesomenessTV—produce and distribute ads and other commercial material targeting children that masquerade as content. It also details how Google encourages and benefits from the production of child-directed influencer videos and distributes these ads to children on its YouTube and YouTube Kids platforms. These “influencer” ads take unfair advantage of kids, who do not have the ability to recognize that companies use social media and YouTube celebrities to pitch toys, junk food, and other products. The groups also called on the FTC to release policy guidance that makes clear that using influencers to persuade children to buy a product or urge their parents to buy a product is unfair and deceptive. “Child-directed influencer marketing is misleading to children because their developing brains do not process or understand advertisements the way adults do—especially advertisements disguised as content,” said Laura Moy, Director at the Institute for Public Representation (IPR) at Georgetown University Law Center, which represents the groups. Existing FTC regulations require that advertisements be disclosed as such—which many influencer ads fail to do—but the complaint also makes clear that better disclosure alone is not a sufficient remedy because it “would not negate the inherent deceptiveness of child-directed influencer marketing.” As a result of the FTC’s inaction, marketing companies—backed by Google and others—are increasing investments in their influencer marketing practices with harmful results. “In many cases these advertisements cause children to want unhealthy and costly products,” Moy pointed out. “As this marketing practice expands even while evidence mounts that it is harmful to children, it becomes increasingly urgent for the FTC to make clear that the practice is unfair and deceptive under the law.” According to the complaint, the FTC can reverse the trend of harmful influencer marketing directed toward children by issuing policy guidance that makes clear that existing laws serve as a safeguard to protect children from these advertisements. The complaint analyzes the influencer marketing apparatus, and the role that Google and so-called Multi-Channel Networks (MCNs) such as Disney’s Maker Studios play in orchestrating the growing use of this tactic. It highlights how these companies use “influencers” who are young or popular with kids to sell junk food, toys, and more. The complaint identifies highly-popular YouTube channels like EvanTubeHD, Baby Ariel, Meghan McCarthy, the Eh Bee Family, and Bratayley, each with millions of subscribers, and how they present videos of child stars unboxing toys, playing games, and enthusiastically sampling junk food. The complaint provides several examples of such videos, including one where Baby Ariel and her family sample Jelly Belly brand jelly beans as part of a game called “BeanBoozled.” In another video, on EvanTubeHD, the child influencer is seen unboxing a Lego Police Patrol Boat. Neither video indicates that it is an advertisement, and both videos can be found intermingled with non-sponsored content on YouTube Kids. Google facilitates, promotes, and solicits these videos because they are popular with children, which increases the company’s ad revenues. “It’s time for the FTC put a stop to child-directed influencer marketing,” explained CDD’s Executive Director Jeff Chester. “Companies like Google are knowingly taking advantage of children and their parents by unleashing a torrent of stealth digital ads disguised as programming supposedly suitable for kids. As the country’s leading consumer protection agency, the FTC has a mandate to protect the public—including our children—from practices we know are both unfair and deceptive.” “Parents have no idea that the adorable ‘friends’ their children like to watch unbox toys are really stealth marketers,” said CCFC’s Executive Director Josh Golin. “It’s time for the FTC to take swift and decisive action and protect children from a practice that has long been prohibited on children’s television.” “Corporate predators are using young Internet influencers, admired by kids, to hawk their wares to children, even to young children,” explained President of Public Citizen, Rob Weissman. “The marketers and the advertising platforms enabling and promoting this activity should be ashamed. But since they’re not, we need the FTC to act to end their outrageous practice.” CCFC and CDD have also previously filed complaints with the FTC concerning child-directed marketing practices on YouTube Kids and YouTube. Todays’ complaint can be found at: (link is external)
  • Blog

    Verizon's AOL’s Kline Sees Location-Based Mobile As ‘Untapped Frontier’

    “flywheel” of data-driven advertising and content under the Verizon umbrella.

    COLOGNE-To the world at large, the fate of Yahoo had been a long-running saga that seemed like it would never end. But to AOL CMO Allie Kline, the deal joining AOL and Yahoo is a big momentum boost for the “flywheel” of data-driven advertising and content under the Verizon umbrella. With Verizon (link is external) already having scooped up some of the biggest and most powerful content brands, “The potential acquisition of Yahoo that only increases our footprint on the brand side,” Kline said in an interview with Beet.TV in mid September at the annual DMEXCO (link is external) conference and exposition. Combining content capabilities with data-driven technology platforms, “you really start to think about the possibility of data-driven content, data-driven advertising and that ecosystem just continuing. We call it the flywheel,” Kline (link is external) said. AOL, which considers mobile to be “a horizontal layer underneath both content and technology,” sees vast potential in the enlarged company’s ability to have technology inform decisions on which content to show on which devices. The personalization that can happen on mobile is optimized by the “unprecedented” Verizon subscriber base, according to Kline. “So we really see that as a strong competitive advantage going forward, particularly in areas like location-based data, which we see as an untapped frontier,” said Kline. On the content side, Kline cites the reach and engagement of properties like Huffington Post and Engadget (link is external). The addition of Yahoo’s news, finance, sports and other brands will add more spin to the freewheel. Once the Yahoo merger is done, the challenge will be “To be able to figure out how to put this combination of assets together and how to tap into the network of publishers and brands that we partner with in order to achieve great scale without compromising premium content,” Klein said.
  • Cross-Device Privacy Must be Protected by FCC Proposed Rule on Broadband ISPs

    Geolocation & Cross Platform and Application Data is Sensitive information. AT&T expands cross-device targeting

    ... ISPs are engaged in cross-device tracking of its subscribers and customers which allow them to target advertising at the individual and household level. Exemplary for all ISPs, we are highlighting AT&T’s efforts in this area. AT&T is expanding its cross-device tracking in order to target individuals on their mobile device after collecting and analyzing their data using the company's internal data and analytics capabilities. In a recent interview, AT&T AdWorks President Rick Welday explained that by the end of this year AT&T will allow marketers to “advertise in 14 million addressable households, 30 million mobile devices and millions of streams within the DirecTV app.” While AT&T may claim that its cross-device tracking is done “anonymously,” that is merely a euphemism to obscure the invasion of privacy that underlies such practices. Mr. Welday explains that AT&T’s data-driven monitoring of its customers enables it to develop dossiers that reveal whether their users are a new homeowner, a new parent, or in the market for an automobile. In its trials with cross-device targeting, AT&T worked with leading Fortune 100 brands as well as promoting its own “AT&T Mobility Wireless” service. The Fortune 100 companies that AT&T worked with likely provided their own so-called first-party data to be used for such cross-device targeting. This illustrates the operational realities today for consumer profiling data, where data are no longer shared with advertisers, but rather advertisers provide such data to ad-delivery platforms (such as AT&T's) for increasingly granular targeting.[3] Linking devices (and the application history on and geolocation on of those devices) to a particular consumer via a unique identifier should be prohibited, unless the ISP has obtained affirmative, express consent (opt-in). The rule’s definition of ‘sensitive information’ must therefore reflect industry practices and include any data elements that allow for this kind of cross-device tracking. The final rule must give ISP customers control over their data, and before companies can proceed with targeted advertising, they must obtain an opt-in consent from their customers. We are particularly concerned that without such safeguards the rules would allow for a by-passing of requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, by using insights gained via cross device tracking to target children without parental consent. Finally, we urge the Commission to affirm in its final rule the need for safeguards against any unauthorized attempts to re-link devices (and its app usage history and geolocation information) to associate them with one user. CDD respectfully urges the FCC to enact its proposed safeguards as soon as possible to help address the further eroding of Americans’ privacy by ISPs.
  • Blog

    CDD Welcomes FCC Chairman Wheeler’s Broadband Privacy Proposal

    Provides Key New Safeguards for ISP Customers’ Privacy

    Washington, DC: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced today (link is external) that he is circulating a broadband ISP privacy proposal to the other four FCC Commissioners detailing a plan that would provide individuals with key safeguards regarding their data. The proposal is designed to help implement the FCC “Open Internet” order to ensure that ISPs respect the privacy of communications over broadband and mobile networks. The following can be attributed to Katharina Kopp, Deputy Director, Center for Digital Democracy: We laud the timely development of a rule that would require ISP customer permission before much of their personal information may be used or shared. This proposal offers consumers the much needed safeguards and desired control over their own personal information. For the first time, ISPs would have to obtain customer consent for the use of web browsing and app usage history for advertising purposes. Given the unique position of ISPs as gatekeepers to vast amounts of customer data, the FCC’s proposed broadband privacy rule is a critical step in preserving a free and open Internet into the 21st century. Because we know that ISPs’ big data analytical capabilities can turn seemingly non-sensitive information into highly private information about our lives, and because all our browsing data and the content of our communications is incredibly sensitive to begin with, we had asked the FCC to avoid drawing distinctions between “sensitive” and “non-sensitive” categories of information. Still, we believe that the proposal’s framework can work for consumer privacy provided the FCC’s definition of “sensitive” is robust and meaningful. We will work to ensure this proposal is effectively implemented and that ISP broadband consumers receive the privacy protections they deserve. The Center for Digital Democracy is a leading nonprofit organization focused on empowering and protecting the rights of the public in the digital era.