Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Search Engine CEO Testifies Before Senate: ‘Privacy Legislation’ Good for Market and Consumers

Gabriel Weinberg,  founder and CEO of newish-kid-on-the-block search engine DuckDuckGo, testified in support of privacy legislation in the United States before a hearing on GDPR and CCPA by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday.  Weinberg explained how enacting laws to curtail the surveilance and data mining activities of market leaders Gogle and Facebook and wannabes Amazon, Apple and Twitter would create more competition and innovation in the creation and presentation of online content.

During his testimony, Weinberg told the senators “privacy legislation, like the GDPR and CCPA, is not only pro-consumer, but also pro-business, and pro-advertising.”

“As you know, people are tired of being watched everywhere they go online. They are fed up with all the intended and unintended consequences this online tracking creates, including invasive ads, identity theft, discrimination, and manipulation,” Weinberg proclaimed. “In many ways I come to you from the future: I run a business that is already GDPR and CCPA-compliant. Our privacy policy is straightforward and doesn’t require a law degree to decipher: We simply do not collect or share any personal information at all.”

This is also the privacy policy of Boggart Blog, The Daily Stirrer and all our offshoots.

Weinberg continued, “Privacy legislation is not anti-advertising. Take our business for example: When you type in a search on DuckDuckGo, we simply show you ads related to that search. If you search for ‘car’, we show you car ads. But those ads won’t follow you around, because we don’t know who you are, where you’ve been, or where you go. It’s contextual advertising versus behavioral advertising.”

“Consumers flock to brands they trust and respect, and according to Harris Poll, data privacy is the most pressing issue on Americans’ minds, now for two years in a row,” he continued, before adding that “well-drafted privacy legislation can spur more competition and innovation in one of the most foundational markets of the Internet: digital advertising.”

“This market is currently a duopoly, and this reality is hurting everyone from small businesses to venture-backed startups to media companies. To restore competition and innovation in this market, the data monopolies at its core need to be addressed,” Weinberg expressed. “Fixing this digital-ad-market duopoly can take any number of forms. Here are three suggestions. First, consumers could be given a robust mechanism to opt-out of online tracking. Second, monopoly platforms could be prohibited from combining data across their different business lines. Third, acquisitions that strengthen existing data monopolies could be blocked.”

Representatives of Google and other Internet businesses, Californians for Consumer Privacy, the director of security police at Intel, and others were also present during the hearing.

In October, it was reported that DuckDuckGo had reached 30 million searches on its engine per day, while earlier last year, Weinberg wrote an article for CNBC explaining why Google and Facebook have to be stopped from tracking everything their users do.

His warning will resonate with many people who find that in spite of their not having a Facebook account and never having directly used the site, Facebook has collected details of their browsing habits and a stack of personal information including telephone numbers and certain debit and credit card details.


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