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TIME TO BAN SURVEILLANCE-BASED ADVERTISING


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Open letter: Ban surveillance-based advertising

Recently, the Norwegian Consumer Council published a report calling for a ban on surveillance-based ads. In solidarity, we the undersigned have sent the following letter on Wednesday, July 7th, to EU and US regulators to encourage them to take action during legislative sessions and any relevant privacy discussions.

 

Surveillance-based advertising permeates the internet today, creating a number of highly problematic issues for both consumers and businesses.

On June 23, a broad coalition of consumer rights organizations, civil rights groups, NGOs, as well as academics, researchers, privacy experts, and enthusiasts – all concerned individuals – called on regulators to stop the invasive and privacy-hostile practices related to surveillance-based advertising.

In the EU, they urged regulators to consider a ban on surveillance-based advertising as a part of the Digital Services Act. In the U.S., they urged legislators to enact comprehensive privacy legislation. We are a group of businesses who write to you today to show our support to this initiative. We represent small, medium, and large businesses who all believe – and demonstrate on a daily basis – that it is possible to run profitable companies without exploiting the privacy of individuals.

In addition to the clear privacy issues caused by surveillance-based advertising, it is also detrimental to the business landscape.

In the surveillance-based advertising model, a few actors can obtain competitive advantages by collecting data from across websites and services and dominant platform actors can abuse their positions by giving preference to their own services.

These practices seriously undermine competition and take revenue away from content creators. Anti-competitive behavior and effects serve to entrench dominant actors’ positions while complex supply chains and ineffective technologies lead to lost revenues for advertisers and publishers.

It is also difficult for consumers to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ actors in the digital sphere, which means that legitimate actors, amongst them many small and medium-sized enterprises, are directly affected by the actions of unscrupulous companies.

This harms consumers and businesses and can undermine the cornerstones of democracy.

Although we recognize that advertising is an important source of revenue for content creators and publishers online, this does not justify the massive commercial surveillance systems set up in attempts to “show the right ad to the right people”.

Other forms of advertising technologies exist, which do not depend on spying on consumers, and alternative models can be implemented without significantly affecting revenue. On the contrary – and that we can attest to – businesses can thrive without privacy-invasive practices.

We encourage you to take a stand and ban surveillance-based advertising.

With kind regards,

  • Vivaldi Technologies, Jon von Tetzchner, CEO & Tatsuki Tomita, COO
  • Fastmail Pty Ltd, Bron Gondwana, CEO
  • Conva Ventures Inc., dba. Fathom Analytics, Jack Ellis & Paul Jarvis, Directors
  • Proton Technologies AG, Dr. Andy Yen, CEO
  • Tutao GmbH, dba. Tutanota, Matthias Pfau, Co-Founder and CEO
  • DuckDuckGo, Inc., Gabriel Weinberg, Founder and CEO
  • Disconnect Inc., Casey Oppenheim, Co-founder and CEO
  • Mojeek Limited, Colin Hayhurst, CEO
  • Ecosia GmbH, Christian Kroll, CEO
  • Startpage & StartMail, Robert E.G. Beens, Co-Founder and CEO
  • Nextcloud GmbH, Frank Karlitschek, Founder and CEO
  • Kobler, Erik Bugge, CEO
  • Strossle International, Håkon Tillier, CEO & Rickard Lawson, CMO
  • Mailfence, Patrick De Schutter, Co-Founder and Managing Director

Written by Jon von Tetzchner

Co-Founder/CEO. Been doing browser development since 1994. When I’m not testing Vivaldi browser or reading Vivaldi forums, I enjoy collecting and playing with vintage computers and arcade games. Born in Iceland, with an Icelandic mother and Norwegian father, lived in Norway for many years and currently reside near Boston, MA.

https://vivaldi.com/blog/letter-ban-surveillance-based-advertising/

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It is a fairly important initiative, since this type of surveillance for commercial purposes, trafficking with user data, is not only degrading the user to mere merchandise and a privacy problem, but this, apart from the risks indicated in this letter, can also become a real security risk.
Apart from the fact that we have no influence on the treatment of the data, once sold to third parties, it is not the first time that sensitive banking and medical data of hundreds of thousands of users have been filtered from Google and Facebook, among others.

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"is not only degrading the user to mere merchandise", You know, it's the inevitable destination of the "market" world.....

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Task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen but to think what nobody has yet thought about that which everybody see. - E.S.

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30 minutes ago, lowenz said:

"is not only degrading the user to mere merchandise", You know, it's the inevitable destination of the "market" world.....

Only if the user and the webs tolerate this. Apart the destination of the "market" world don't depend on this. Every company in  the real world which uses fraudulent or abusive practices or sells toxic or dangerous products, can be closed by governments, it is also possible on the web.
It cannot be that you are persecuted for misusing a copyrighted thing, for violating the rights of the autor, but if they violate your privacy rights, specified in the constitution, nothing happens.
The problem lies in legislators who make Internet laws, correcting errors in Word with Tip-ex. 

For this this initiative, bringing together all CEOs and Webs, affected by this abuse of certain companies, forcing legislators to take action on the matter. Apart from making users aware of boycotting as much as possible sites that use these abusive practices.
What do you do with a guy watching you through your bedroom window or the postman you catch opening and reading your mail?

Nothing to do with the law of the market, you don't need to tolerate this.

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Someone could says "regulated market is NOT market".

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Task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen but to think what nobody has yet thought about that which everybody see. - E.S.

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27 minutes ago, lowenz said:

Someone could says "regulated market is NOT market".

The entire market is regulated in one way or another. Naturally and unfortunately there are always abuses. But what is done on the internet goes beyond what companies can afford in real life.
I imagine a security company that installs an alarm in your home and forces you to install cameras in each room, guarded by them 24 hours, apart from sharing these footage with third parties, advertising companies.
Well, this is exactly what these big internet companies do, as I said before, they even read your email.
No matter how depraved the markets are in real life, they don't even go up to this point in North Korea.

This is what this initiative is going against, we must stop these abuses before it goes further. You already know the story of how to cook a frog, putting it in cold water that gradually warms up. So the frog does not find out until it is late.

 

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I've noticed on YouTube if I search up information regarding a certain type of product (in my case I was feeling nostalgic for my childhood in the 90s and searched up Wonderballs candy), then YouTube starts showing ads for that type of product. Innocent, sure, but it has an eerie way of making you feel watched.

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Posted (edited)

This is the point. It's not so important that YT knows your music preferences, but it's important when a company track all your activity in the network and related meta-dates to sell this a others.

For this is important to use tools to avoid it as much as possible, Ad and Trackingblockers, Fingerprint Spoofers, browsers which don't track your activity, Search Engines which do't store your history online and naturally your own common sense spreeding personal data.

For YT you can use a privacy desktop Front-end like FreeTube, the front-end Nitter instead of Twitter, or use alternatives, like Lemmy, Diaspora, Mastodon, etc., you have the posibility to difficult the tracking of Big Companies, but it isn't a solucion of the problem.

A good Tool to see what different webs inyect when you visit them is Blacklight.

Edited by Zerg Rush
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Nothing will happen until the Five Eyes agencies are disbanded and the Patriot Act is repealed.

Social Media surveillance is the loophole that allows the NSA and Five Eyes to warehouse user data without "technically" violating the 4th amendment.

According to Snowden, they now claim to keep most of the data inside Social Media provider servers instead of the Utah data-center, so they have plausible deniability.

"No, we didn't gather that from our own NSA servers... we subpoenaed Facebook and they gave it to us."

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Please visit TDM's IndieDB site and help promote the mod:

 

http://www.indiedb.com/mods/the-dark-mod

 

(Yeah, shameless promotion... but traffic is traffic folks...)

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No technique can prevent a user from posting on Facebook even when he is going to piss, but one thing is the data that voluntarily or out of stupidity we publish on the net, and companies that track us all over the internet spying on our activities and even reading our mail, without that we want it.

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2 minutes ago, nbohr1more said:

Nothing will happen until the Five Eyes agencies are disbanded and the Patriot Act is repealed.

Social Media surveillance is the loophole that allows the NSA and Five Eyes to warehouse user data without "technically" violating the 4th amendment.

According to Snowden, they now claim to keep most of the data inside Social Media provider servers instead of the Utah data-center, so they have plausible deniability.

"No, we didn't gather that from our own NSA servers... we subpoenaed Facebook and they gave it to us."

It goes deeper than that with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and the Executive Order 12333 signed on December 4, 1981 President Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately US judges and lawmakers aren't progressive enough to extended the 4'th Amendment to the right to privacy. It's simply not in the text.

At European level though the positive example showcased by the German Constitutional Court last year should inspire neighbors to do more: https://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/EN/2020/bvg20-037.html

Maximilian Schrems' activity is also promising. He and the NOYB NGO have already had significant achievements in litigation, especially at the European Court of Justice.

The European Court of Human Rights had more modest progress. Controversially, they still recognize bulk interception of communications. Mainly, due to the fact that many countries in the Council of Europe are not as free and democratic as in the EU. But still, after a few failures, some violations have been noted: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-210077

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"I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate — the vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active — not more happy — nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. The result will never vary — and to suppose that it will, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in vain — that the foregone time is but the rudiment of the future — that the myriads who have perished have not been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual, in man the mass."...

- 2 July 1844 letter to James Russell Lowell from Edgar Allan Poe.

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Besides, it is not that official sites or governments know your activity (well, too), they know your data anyway, but this does not mean that we have to tolerate private companies spying on us, nothing of our private life should matter to them, apart from that we do not know to whom they sell this data to do business. Just imagine that they sell your medical data to insurance companies, the consequences that this can have for you, if you request some insurance. Which advertisers of pads and tampons know exactly when your wife has her period, why your supermarket and your bank sold them this information, why you bought tampons with a credit card.
And these are still pretty innocuous examples for what can cause a trace by private companies. You do not know how these companies treat this data, which can also be leaked to malicious people, as in the past thousands of banking and medical data of users were leaked from Google and Facebook.

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