Blog

Week of October 18, 2021

Julie Rubash, Chief Privacy Counsel
October 25, 2021

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USA

FTC Report Reveals ISP Investigation Findings

The FTC published a staff report summarizing investigations of the country’s six largest ISPs’ data collection and privacy practices. The report revealed observations of ISPs amassing large pools of sensitive data, gathering and using data in potentially harmful ways that consumers don’t expect, offering illusory privacy choices, and acting at least as privacy-intrusive as large advertising platforms.

WHY IT MATTERS

One interesting finding from the report revealed that several of the ISPs engage significantly in targeted advertising, similar to traditional advertising networks, but that, unlike traditional advertising networks, ISPs use “supercookie” technology (which can’t be deleted) to persistently track users, so browser and mobile device settings are ineffective to stop tracking by ISPs.

Advocacy Groups Push for Swift Confirmation of Bedoya

37 advocacy groups sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation stressing the importance of confirming Alvaro Bedoya as an FTC Commissioner “as soon as possible”. The letter points out that, with the confirmation of FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra as Director of the Consumer Financial Bureau, an FTC seat is left vacant, leaving a deadlock on the FTC.

The letter stresses that “when it comes to holding Big Tech monopolies accountable, time is of the essence.”

WHY IT MATTERS

President Biden nominated Bedoya as an FTC Commissioner last month, but his nomination must still be confirmed by the Senate.

Bedoya’s research has focused on the potential harms of algorithmic bias and surveillance technologies, and he has been openly critical of Big Tech’s power over Congress and state legislatures when it comes to data privacy.

His nomination has been celebrated by consumer and civil rights advocates.President Biden nominated Bedoya as an FTC Commissioner last month, but his nomination must still be confirmed by the Senate.

Bedoya’s research has focused on the potential harms of algorithmic bias and surveillance technologies, and he has been openly critical of Big Tech’s power over Congress and state legislatures when it comes to data privacy. His nomination has been celebrated by consumer and civil rights advocates.

EUROPE

Ukraine Parliament Takes Steps Toward Privacy Reform

The Ukraine Parliament registered a Draft Law on the National Commission for Personal Data Protection and Access to Public Information (Draft Law on the DPA), which would establish an independent government agency responsible for data privacy policymaking and enforcement.

The new agency would have authority to investigate possible violations of Ukraine’s law On Personal Data Protection and issue fines to controllers and processors of personal data of up to 1% of total annual turnover for initial violations and up to 200% of the initial fine for subsequent violations.

WHY IT MATTERS

The Parliament registered in June The Draft Law on Protection of Personal Data (Draft Law on PPD), which would align Ukraine with EU standards, including the GDPR. If adopted the Draft Law on PPD will become effective January 1, 2023. The newly registered Draft Law on the DPA would supplement and provide the rulemaking and enforcement mechanism for the Draft Law on PPD.

glOBAL

Brazil Senate Approves Privacy as Constitutional Right

The Brazil Senate voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the Brazil Constitution making the protection of personal data (including in digital media) a fundamental right and giving the federal government exclusive legislative authority relating to the protection and processing of personal information. The amendment will next go to promulgation in a session of the National Congress.

WHY IT MATTERS

This amendment would make the federal government constitutionally responsible for protecting personal data as a fundamental right; accordingly, any legislation in the area of privacy would have to be drafted with that aim.

INDUSTRY

Brave announced that Brave Search, its own “private search that puts you first, not big tech” will now be the default search engine in its Brave browser for new users in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

According to Brave’s website, Brave Search doesn’t track users, searches or clicks and doesn’t collect, sell, or share user data. Brave specified that Brave Search will soon be ad-supported, but that they will also offer an ad-free premium version in the near future.

They also announced launch of the Web Discovery Project, which will allow users to opt-in to anonymously contribute data to improve search coverage and quality, but specified that all data received is unlinkable, so “there’s no data for Brave to sell to advertisers.”

OUR TAKE

Brave’s browser blocks third-party ads and trackers by default and offers a revshare model for users to opt in to receive Brave-served ads based on their browsing interests. As noted above, Brave’s search engine is not currently, but will soon be, ad supported, presumably adopting an extension of the existing ads model.

Google Rolls Out Data Safety Form in Google Play Console

Google announced that the Google Play Console will now include a new “Data safety” section, allowing Android developers to submit information about how they collect, share and protect user data in accordance with Google’s guidance.

Google will require all developers to complete an accurate Data Safety form by April 2022 in order to publish an app or app updates on Google Play. In the meantime, developers can submit the form and receive feedback from Google regarding any issues.

WHY IT MATTERS

The Data safety section will only be presented on the app’s listing on Google Play. Google is not including new disclosures in the user app install process or new user consents related to this feature.

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A Little Privacy, Please weekly recaps are provided for general, informational purposes only, do not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied upon for legal decision-making. Please consult an attorney to determine how legal updates may impact you or your business.

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