Privacy Sanity Check in the U.S.
March 6, 2017 – Todd Ruback
Even though a number of high-level federal agency appointments remain to be made, the new administration’s privacy landscape is now coming into focus.
Even though a number of high-level federal agency appointments remain to be made, the new Trump administration’s privacy landscape is now coming into focus. The Federal Communications Commission, under Ajit Pai’s new leadership, is wasting no time shifting away from the prior administration’s hotly contested FCC privacy rules that subjected internet service providers to stricter scrutiny than websites, stating that the “online space should be subject to the same rules, and the federal government should not favor one set of companies over another,” said FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield. Meanwhile, the FTC, under the helm of Acting Chairwoman Ohlhausen, a well-respected FTC and long-standing Commissioner, announced settlements with three companies–SpyChatter, Vir2us, and Sentinel Labs– that they allegedly deceived consumers about their participation in the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules program. Hopefully the “Acting” will soon be dropped from Chairwoman Ohlhausen’s title, ensuring that the FTC remains under well-measured leadership for the foreseeable future.
In the EU, privacy wonks sit with bated breath to see if the Irish High Court will indeed refer the important model contracts case to the EU Court of Justice to determine the validity of this critical cross border transfer mechanism used by many corporations. I’ll continue to follow the case and will be sure to report back as soon as I hear anything new. Also from the EU, the European Data Protection Supervisor published his anticipated priorities for 2017, with the most concrete being the overhaul of the ePrivacy Directive into a Regulation in order to close any gaps with the GDPR and protect the confidentiality and privacy of e-communications. Look for the ePrivacy Regulation, once enacted, to be a game changer which could have as much impact upon companies as the GDPR.
In digital marketing news, industry consolidation continues with the announcement that Turn, a well-known demand-side platform, will be acquired within 45 days by Singapore based telco, Singtel, reportedly for an impressive $310 million value. In other industry news, Shine, a mobile ad blocker used by some mobile carriers, announced it’s name change to Rainbow as well as a change in its business strategy to reflect its evolution from an ad blocker to what the company described as a “co-marketed solution” aimed at consumers. This new strategy embraces industry developed advertising guidelines and will help advertisers conduct consumer surveys to track ad performance based upon those guidelines.
In case you missed the big news from a couple of weeks ago, we sold our consumer facing business—the beloved Ghostery browser extension and Ghostery brand—to Cliqz, a very cool privacy centric browser/search engine, which I hope you will download and use. I do and it’s great. We’ve reverted back to Evidon, what many of you already know us as, so hopefully the shock won’t be too great for my many privacy friends.
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Todd Ruback, Chief Privacy Officer