Google Considers Android Privacy Controls; Dems Intro Bill To Amend Section 230

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GAID-night, Sweet Prince

Hear that? It’s the sound of Google getting ready to drop the other shoe. Bloomberg reports that Google is thinking about implementing privacy controls on Android similar to the ones that Apple is close to rolling out on iOS 14. Google is no doubt under pressure to create privacy parity between its browser and its mobile operating system. But Google, unlike Apple, makes googobs of money from advertising – as in more than $100 billion a year in digital ad sales, so Google has a vested interest in continuing to help developers, publishers and advertisers target ads to Android device users and then measure the results. So, don’t expect an exact analog to Apple’s forthcoming AppTrackingTransparency framework. Google’s solution, whatever it ends up being, is likely to be far less strict and, according to Bloomberg’s sources, won’t require an explicit opt-in for tracking, like Apple’s shortly will. It’d still be a massive deal, though. It’s in the early stages , however, and Google is only in the exploration phase of what this could look like. But, regardless of the timeline, well, we called it. ---> [Related in AdExchanger: “Mobile Device IDs Will Be The Next Ad Tracker To Bite The Dust.”]

Greater Accountability

In an attempt to clamp down on abusive or harmful content, a new Democratic bill could make it easier for targets of harassment to sue social media platforms, CNBC reports. The “SAFE TECH Act,” led by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and backed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, would amend Section 230, the shield that protects tech platforms from liability for their users’ posts. If passed, the bill would bring greater legal exposure to a range of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, as well as ecommerce sites Amazon and Etsy. Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have urged Congress to revise Section 230 as a way to force tech companies to remove hate speech, content related to election interference and straight-up falsehoods.The SAFE TECH Act would clarify that Section 230 immunity would not apply in several cases, such as platforms hosting ads or other paid content that targets vulnerable consumers with scams or fraudulent products. It would also allow targets of stalking, harassment and intimidation to seek accountability and families to pursue wrongful death suits. It would also seek to ensure that civil rights law enforcement isn’t hampered by Section 230 protections for the platforms.The SAFE TECH Act comes a day after Klobuchar introduced a sweeping new antitrust bill that would allow enforcement agencies more power to impose bigger fines and shifting the burden of proof for companies over mergers.

EBay Has Work To Do

After the January 6 attack on the capitol, several online marketplaces pledged to crack down on products that promote hate speech, or were associated with far-right groups. eBay still has some work to do. Recent searches by Digiday showed that merchandise, including gun parts branded with marks, logos and phrases associated with far right nationalist groups are readily available for sale, including numerous listings that were promoted by eBay’s advertising platform. The deplatforming of former President Donald Trump has caused marketplaces to reckon with what is being sold on their platforms. eBay said it banned additional merchandise related to far right groups associated with Boogaloo, Oath Keepers, and “Stop the Steal” items after the insurrection. But while neural networks and keyword blocklists can catch and remove most prohibited material, observers said they won’t be able to stop all of it. eBay said it began reviewing and removing items identified by Digiday. 

Google Making Nice?

Google’s beef with Australia keeps heating up, although the tech giant now seems to be trying to make nice. Yahoo! Finance reports that the company announced Friday it launched a new platform – News Showcase – offering news it has paid for, after striking its own content deals with publishers. The move is part of an effort to show that proposed legislation forcing the tech giant to pay news publishers for the right to link to their content – a first in the world – is unnecessary. Google’s News Showcase platform was originally slated for launch last June but was put on ice in the wake of the proposed legislation. Google recently threatened to pull its search engine from Australia where it has a staggering 94.5% market share, and the tech firm, still lobbying the Australian government in private meetings, had previously said that the legislation was "unworkable.” With the bill now before a parliamentary inquiry, Friday's launch of News Showcase will see Google pay seven domestic outlets, including the Canberra Times, to use their content. Google said it’s looking forward to striking agreements with more Australian publishers, whose position has been bolstered by Canberra's aggressive push back against Facebook and Google.

But Wait, There’s More!

Unilever backed customer service startup Limitless in a $10 million funding round after seeing this pitch deck. [Business Insider]

TikTok rival Kuaishou saw its stock more than double in its Hong Kong debut. [The Wall Street Journal]

How first-time advertisers helped ViacomCBS win ahead of Super Bowl 55. [Adweek]

Gaming in 2021 will transform how brands interact with consumers forever. [The Drum]

Playable and video ad creative platform Luna Labs is teaming up with newly AppLovin-owned Adjust to help game studios improve their ads using install data. [release]

You’re Hired!

Tim Jones is named chief operating officer of Publicis Groupe Marketing Services in the US. Dave Penski succeeds him as CEO of Publicis Media Americas. [Ad Age]

Gatorade has hired Nike exec – and former Dallas Cowboys linebacker – Kalen Thornton as its new CMO. [Chicago Business]

Media engagement company Trion.io named Paul Calento as CEO. [release]

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