Google Feels The Heat On Search Conquesting; IAB Tech Lab Proposes Shared Token Identifier

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An Endless Conquest 

Google’s allowance of aggressive conquesting on search results is becoming a headache for companies relying on organic search. Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, sounded off about the practice on Twitter this week after his company showed up below four paid ads in a search for the company’s name. “ …You’re forced to pay up if you want to be found,” Fried tweeted. “It’s a shakedown.” Basecamp bought a Google search ad that says “ | We don’t want to run this ad.” in defiance of Google’s practices, which are forcing “a small, independent co.” to “pay ransom to a giant tech company,” Fried said. Fried’s complaint comes as Google faces antitrust investigations from the DOJ and competition authorities in Europe and 30 US states. CNBC has more. Related: Google is also pissing off publishers by using their Google Shopping content for product tests that could hurt their ability to make money. More.

A Token For All Your Tracking

The IAB Tech Lab proposed a digital token that acts as a single identifier people can use to express their preferences across digital publishers and advertisers. The token differs from cookies because all publishers and advertisers would be using the same token to identify people instead of each using their own, CNET reports. The token will not identify people by name and will come with an enforcement mechanism that ensures companies are using it compliantly. The Tech Lab calls for the technology to be co-developed by publishers, advertisers, browser operators and privacy advocates. But there’s still a lot to be ironed out, like what the baseline privacy setting of the token should be, and getting everyone to agree might be an issue. “Who’re they kidding?” Brendan Eich, CEO of privacy-focused browser Brave, tweeted. “A single ‘token’ will uniquely identify you & be linked to your name & personal data in a trice.” More.

I Kid You Not

Google agreed to pay the FTC $170 million for collecting information from and delivering targeted advertising to minors. The FTC found that not only did Google harvest children’s data without parental consent, but it marketed YouTube to advertisers as a core platform to reach kids, The New York Times reports. Despite being the largest penalty the FTC has ever levied in a COPPA case, legislators and privacy activists are, unsurprisingly, displeased. “It’s the equivalent of a cop pulling somebody over for speeding at 110 miles an hour, and they get off with a warning,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. As part of the agreement, which was passed along party lines, YouTube will make content owners tag their videos for children. YouTube will also stop collecting data on viewers of children’s videos even if they are over 13, and remove comments and notifications, which use personal data, on children’s videos. More. Related: YouTube creators could be held liable for COPPA violations under the new fine. TechCrunch has more.

Privacy Catch-22

What happens when a platform needs to protect user privacy while avoiding antitrust allegations? Facebook grapples with that issue in a white paper released Wednesday, in a rare public display of its internal thinking and a plea for outside help. To achieve the two at-odds mandates, Facebook is being called to stem the flow of user data from its platform while making user data more accessible to people and smaller companies. “We’ve heard calls – sometimes from the same stakeholder – both to enable greater data portability and to limit people’s ability to share their data with third parties,” the paper says. Facebook is asking for input from other tech companies and regulators so it doesn’t make a unilateral decision on a matter that’s still very murky, The Wall Street Journal reports. “We’re not going to be able to build portability to the extent we’d like to unless we as an industry can resolve these questions,” a Facebook spokesperson said. More.

But Wait, There’s More

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