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Report: Ban The Personal Identifiable Data Part of Ad Tech

Report. Go beyond GDPR and ban sending personally identifiable data out to advertising networks. Such are the recommendation from the British New Economics Foundation, who is working to transform the economy to work for people and the planet, in its report ‘Blocking the Data Stalkers’.

Catherine Taylor’s world was turned upside down when a data broker, ChoicePoint, incorrectly linked her to a criminal charge of intention to supply methamphetamines. The data broker then sold on her file many times so that the original error was replicated widely across the many digital profiles maintained about her. The error costed her job interviews, as employers were put off by the black mark against her name. It took over four years for her to find a job. In the meantime, she was rejected for an apartment she wanted to buy and couldn’t even get credit for a new washing machine. (shortened case story from the report)

Our digital selves are marketable products. In 2020 over 50% of all advertising spend will be spent online. And two digital giants – Facebook and Google– control 84% of the market. The companies are hugely reliant on ad revenue, with Facebook collecting 97% of their overall revenue from ad spending while at Google it accounts for 88%.

In its report ‘Blocking the Data Stalkers’ from December 2018, the foundation recommends a ban on sending personally identifiable data out to advertising networks. An interesting recommendation, as some experts in Europe actually believe that this data sharing should be illegal. Germany intends to ban Facebook from collecting user data from third parties, according to Bild am Sontag and Bloomberg, If this sticks, it’s a serious problem for Facebook’s ad-targeting strategy and the whole ad tech industry, as a wider investigation by the European Union could follow.

Also the British Data Protection Agency, ICO, is investigating the data brokers and the ad tech industry, saying that it is particularly concerned with the “purchasing of marketing lists and lifestyle information from data brokers.
The report recommends that all services should be subject to privacy by default and design. This means they would be automatically set to not collect, share or sell on our personal data. This is an idea, not an obligation in GDPR. So, going beyond GDRP is important, as – according to the report – the law does not work, if users don’t understand, or don’t take the time to read the terms and conditions they are signing up to. A ban would therefore have a lot of repercussion. The recommendations in the report will solve following:
  • It would tackle data leaks, by preventing any personal data from being sent during bid requests.
  • It would reduce the commodification of personal data, by reducing the market for personal data and diminishing the ability of companies to monetise it.
  • It would force tech giants to diversify their business model away from ‘free’ services based on constant surveillance and advertising.
  • It would give power back to websites which spend time producing content and have a dedicated user base.
  • It would fight back against ad fraud (25% of all ad spend is lost to fraud) by halting the revenue that can come from fraudulent sites.

Get the whole report