This report from Internetnews.com on the Progress and Freedom Foundation’s “Congressional” briefing illustrates how desperate some online marketers are that a growing number of bi-partisan congressional leaders want to protect consumer privacy.Â So it’s not surprising that some groups that are actually financially supported by the biggest online marketing data collectors in the world would hold a Hill event to help out the friends who pay their bills.
It should have been noted in Ken Corbin’s that Google, Microsoft, Time Warner (AOL), News Corp. (MySpace) financially back the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF).Â Other behavioral data targeting `want to beâ€™sâ€™ who monopolize U.S. online and other platforms are also backers:Â AT&T, Comcast, NBC, Disney/ABC, Viacom/MTV/Nick, etc. For a list, see here.
PFF and some of its allies deliberately distort the critique of consumer and privacy groups.Â We are not opposed to online marketing and also understand and support its revenue role for online publishing.Â But many of us do oppose as unfair to consumers a stealth-like data collection, profiling and ubiquitous tracking system that targets people online.Â One would suppose that as a sort of quasi-libertarian organization, PFF would support individual rights.Â But given all the financial support PFF gets from the major online data collectors, how the group addresses the consumer privacy issue must be viewed under the `special interests pays the bills’ lens.
PFF and its allies are playing the â€˜save the newspaperâ€™ card in their desperate attempt to undermine the call for lawmakers to protect consumer privacy.Â Newspapers and online publishers should be in the forefront of supporting reader/user privacy; it enhances, not conflicts, with the First Amendment in the digital era.Â Finally, PFFâ€™s positions on media issues over the years has actually contributed to the present crisis where journalism is on the endangered species list.Â This is a group that has worked to dismantle the FCC, eliminate rules designed to foster diverse media ownership, and undermine network neutrality.
PS:Â The article quotes from Prof. Howard Beales of George Washington University (and a fCV,ormer Bush FTC official with oversight on privacy).Â Prof. Beales was on the PFF panel.Â Prof. Beales, according to his CV has served as a consultant to AOL and others (includingÂ Primerica and the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America).Â Time Warner, which owns AOL, is a PFF financial backer.Â All this should have been noted in the press coverage.