Google to EU: Protecting Privacy and Regulating Behavioral Targeting Could Threaten the Economy [Annals of Hypocrisy and Digital Chicken Licken Scare Tactics]

It’s both silly and disingenuous when companies tell policymakers, as they regularly do, that if they act to protect consumers it would undermine a country’s economic status.   Both that’s what Google’s chief privacy official appears to have told top European Union officials responsible for privacy and consumer protection last month.  At the Interactive Advertising Bureau/EU annual conference, Peter Fleisher, Google’s Global Privacy Counsel [my bold], “underlined the economic importance of web 2.0. Targeted advertising does not only affect online platforms but also advertisers themselves and the broader economic ecosystem. He urged the Commission to consider the wider economic repercussions before imposing any regulation on behavioural advertising.

Meanwhile, Microsoft continued its digital doublespeak efforts, telling some it supported privacy legislation while it also simultaneously worked on ineffective self-regulatory schemes.   At the IAB EU event, Peter Cullen, Chief Privacy Strategist at Microsoft “explained [to EU officials] the many benefits consumers get from online advertising as it finances a variety of free services available to them. Mr Cullen warned that policy initiatives must not exacerbate the problem and that a balance of self regulation, policy making and industry unity was required.”

The failure to regulate the economy has brought havoc and suffering for many millions of people throughout the world.  Google and Microsoft, as digital leaders, should be acting responsibly and support meaningful legislation that protects and empowers citizens and consumers.  The economy (and civil society) will be even healthier when it is governed by policies that ensure individuals comprehend and control the digital data collection and targeting system that is now unleashed throughout the world.

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.

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