Future of Privacy Forum: Funded by Facebook and other online data companies [Need to disclose when discussing social networks and privacy department]

In an August report, the Future of Privacy Forum told its supports that [our bold]: “We welcome Bering Media as a new sponsor of FPF… Thanks to our existing sponsors for their on-going  support: Adobe, AOL, AT&T, The Better Advertising Project, BlueKai,  Deloitte, eBay, Facebook, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, The  Nielsen Company, Qualcomm, TRUSTe, Verizon and Yahoo.”

When the Forum was launched, we feared that its role was to serve as a kind of quasi-research organization that sanctioned the online data collection status quo. So far it has failed (like most in the online ad industry), in our opinion, to provide an accurate analysis of the online data collection landscape–which would, of course, alienate its corporate backers.  But whenever the Forum speaks to the press (as it recently did on Facebook Places) or policymakers–it must first identify these financial connections.

PS:  Forum co-founder and corporate attorney Chris Wolf identifies how his group isn’t really focused on privacy from a public interest and democracy perspective.  In his Hogan Lovells law firm blog he writes that the Future of Privacy Forum is “focused on advancing consumer privacy in ways that are business practical.”   Business Practical!   That means created by lobbyists for their special interests.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.