- With more and more countries adopting GDPR-like legislation, the US is falling behind on protecting consumer privacy rights
- The increased revenue from tracking and targeted advertising seldom makes its way to site owners
- The US used to be a strong advocate for privacy rights, and should be again
Brave.com revealed today that Brendan Eich, the CEO of Brave Software (BAT) has written to the US Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, urging them to implement in the US something similar to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Such a move, he argues, would not only be good for American consumers in general, but would help protect against political microtargeting, and would be perfectly in line with strong pro-privacy stances the US has taken in the past.
Trust Must Be Restored
The online advertising industry brings in tens of billions of dollars a year to companies like Google and Facebook. The enormous revenue streams and the advantage of already being big have, however, made it very difficult for new players in the industry to take on the giants.
Sure, customers may know that their data from one site is used to determined which ads they are spoon fed on another – but what many have not paused to consider is that this puts all the money – and power, in the hands of the companies tracking you. For advertisers, Google are able to offer better targeting precisely because Google is already everywhere.
Certainly many sites providing free content to users are reliant on serving ads – but increasingly, the giants are taking the vast majority of the revenue. Microtargeting, and the near universal tracking of your surfing patterns, is not helping the sites you use. It only helps the advertisers and the companies tracking you.
Sites being forced to rely on third party advertisement services does have one more issue. As it is not the sites themselves choosing which ads are displayed on their sites, it opens the door to political ads for which we often don’t know the source – as you may remember from the 2016 US election.
Speaking of trust and incentives, Eich is the CEO of Brave Software, which most in the crypto community will remember as a privacy focused browser with a built in ad blocker.
It is only fair, since we are questioning the incentives of advertisement giants, that we also consider Brave’s place in all this.
With a browser that cuts out this kind of tracking and targeted advertisement, Eich is very much asking the senate to reduce the need for the product he offers.
Frankly we find that refreshing.
Defending Privacy Used to be US Policy
Ultimately, while the GDPR and similar legislation from countries across the world is making a big difference in protecting consumers, joining them would not be that big a leap for the US to make.
In the OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data from 1980, the US endorsed strong privacy rights for consumers – rights companies like Google and Facebook are making tens of billions of dollars circumventing because the rules have not been updated as new technology has emerged.
Brendan Eich, and the world, are not asking for something radical here. We are asking the US senate to support privacy rights for consumers against powerful corporations, as it has in the past.