When will members of the Congressional Internet Caucus wake up and address the role its special interest dominated “Advisory” Committee is playing?Â The Caucus is holding a “State of the Mobile Net” conference on April 23.Â It’s doubtful Congress will be receiving the unbiased information they need, given that the sponsors of the event are the leading companies engaged in mobile marketing and data collection.Â As typical of the “business model” crafted by the Center for Democracy and Technology connected group known as the Internet Education Foundation, the event prominently acknowledges itsÂ “Platinum” sponsors: the CTIA lobby group, Google, Microsoft and Verizon.Â “Gold” sponsors are AT&T, Nokia, T-Mobile.Â There is also a category called “promotional” sponsors which lists Yahoo and several others.
It’s highly unlikely that the meeting will discuss the real issues challenging consumer privacy and welfare on the mobile Internet (including, we expect, the recent CDD/USPIRG complaint filed at the FTC– which has helped launch an investigation into that market).Â Â The Advisory Caucus is run by the Internet Education Foundation, whose board members include representatives from Google, Verizon, Comcast, Microsoft, Recording Industry of America, and the Consumer Electronics Association. So the line-up of speakers is crafted to make sure that corporate donor feathers–and their willingness to continue to financially contribute–aren’t ruffled.Â On the privacy panel for the event we have, of course, a representative from CDT.Â Â There are also mobile marketers–including Yahoo and loopt.Â There is the DLA Piper law firm that advocates for industry and a lone academic. Consumers and citizens deserve better from Congress.
PS:Â As an example of how incredibly biased the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Net Caucus is, look at the description and speaker line-up of its recent briefing on online advertising.Â A supposed “unbiased” event,Â it featured industry lobbyists and several groups funded by online marketers!Â Incredibly shameful!
Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus
Anatomy of Online Advertising: Understanding the Privacy Debate
March 30, 2009…The purpose of the briefing is to provide an unbiased foundation for understanding the various privacy issues that Congress will debate in the context of online advertising.
* Paula Bruening, Hunton & Williams
* Maureen Cooney, TRUSTe
* Michael Engelhardt, Adobe Systems
* Tim Lordan, Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee
* Jules Polonetsky, Future of Privacy
* Heather West, Center for Democracy & Technology
* Mike Zaneis, Interactive Advertising Bureau