Privacy-Focused Tech Companies Call for Ban on ‘Surveillance-Based’ Advertising

In this photo illustration the Google logo is reflected in the eye of a girl on February 3, 2008 in London, England. Financial experts continue to evaluate the recent Microsoft $44.6 billion (?22.4 billion) offer for Yahoo and the possible impact on Internet market currently dominated by Google. (Photo by …
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A coalition of privacy-focused tech companies including DuckDuckGo, Vivaldi, and the company behind Protonmail have called for a ban on targeted “surveillance-based” advertising.

Motherboard reports that a group of privacy-focused tech firms including DuckDuckGo, Vivaldi, and the company that makes Protonmail are calling for a broad ban on targeted “surveillance-based” advertising. The open letter published by the group states: “Although we recognize that advertising is an important source of revenue for content creators and publishers online, this does not justify the massive commercial surveillance systems set up in attempts to ‘show the right ad to the right people.’”

The letter urges lawmakers in the United States and the European Union to enact data protection laws that could protect consumers from what they call “privacy-hostile” practices that many companies use in their advertising practices. The companies allege that exploiting users’ privacy for targeted advertising is not necessary for companies to be profitable.

Mojeek, an independent search engine, posted in 2006 about its efforts to avoid collecting personal user data. Many of the companies that signed the open letter make money by using “contextual” advertising rather than targeted; this means that advertisers can buy ads that show up when a user searches a specific term. This is different from targeted advertising which can take into account a user’s search history, demographics, and biographic information.

The open letter was published in support of a recent report from the Norwegian Consumer Council that analyzed how companies infringe upon users’ privacy by collecting their data. The NCC commissioned the cybersecurity firm Mnemonic to analyze how ten popular mobile apps used and collected data.

The study found that ten apps shared user data with at least 135 third parties involved in advertising or profiling. It also found that Facebook received data from nine of the apps, and Google’s advertising service DoubleClick received data from eight of them.

Read more at Motherboard here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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