Category Archives: privacy

The Structural Irrelevance of Privacy: A Provocation: The Library Quarterly: Vol 86, No 4

A recent library institute on privacy noted that “privacy … is crucial to free speech, freedom of thought, and equal access to information,” now challenged by the “mass collection of … data,” and that “our profession has been slow to respond [to this] threat.” The failure is broader: a theoretical approach to privacy unmoored from contemporary reality. It is the context of what has been known for some time that reveals the shortcomings of privacy theories. This article will review where our current theories come from: the broader field of information ethics and its intellectual framing of privacy issues. The article will review theoretical and historical insights that should inform our ideas about what privacy is and when it is effectively absent or invaded. These insights provide a much more informative context for democratic values, concluding with recommendations to blend the two traditions and move privacy forward.

Source: The Structural Irrelevance of Privacy: A Provocation: The Library Quarterly: Vol 86, No 4

Yahoo Patents Smart Billboard That Would Deliver Targeted Ads To Passersby or Motorists – Slashdot

Yahoo has filed a patent for advertising billboards outfitted with a wide array of sensors — including drone-based cameras — which would use facial and vehicle recognition, data brokers, cell-tower information and social network information to attempt to identify worthwhile advertising targets and aim personalized ads at them as they pass on foot or in cars. The scheme, which wassubmitted on October 6th, anticipates using the same kind of micro-auction processes that currently determine which ads users see in webpages and mobile apps. The implementation of public ad-targeting brings up some fascinating and chilling prospects, as users find that the ads which “bloom” around them betray much about their private lives.Yahoo provides an example via its patent application: “According to one example, a digital billboard adjacent a busy freeway might be instrumented with or located near traffic sensors that detect information about the context of the vehicles approaching the billboard, e.g., the number and average speed of the vehicles. Such information might be used in conjunction with information about the time of day and/or the day of the week (e.g., Monday morning rush hour) to select advertisements for display that would appeal to an expected demographic and to display the advertisements for durations that are commensurate with the level of traffic congestion.” The patent application also mentions how it will gather required information from individuals: “Various types of data (e.g., cell tower data, mobile app location data, image data, etc.) can be used to identify specific individuals in an audience in position to view advertising content. Similarly, vehicle navigation/tracking data from vehicles equipped with such systems could be used to identify specific vehicles and/or vehicle owners. Demographic data (e.g., as obtained from a marketing or user database) for the audience can thus be determined for the purpose of, for example, determining whether and/or the degree to which the demographic profile of the audience corresponds to a target demographic.”


Source: Yahoo Patents Smart Billboard That Would Deliver Targeted Ads To Passersby or Motorists – Slashdot

Frederik quoted in article on ad blocking

Saying publishers’ anti-adblock tactics are illegal, a European privacy advocate plans his attack

Frederik Borgesius, a researcher at the University of Amsterdam’s IViR Institute for Information Law, said that “detecting whether a website visitor has an adblocker by storing a script on that visitor’s computer seems to require the visitor’s prior consent.” But he stopped short of saying whether Hanff had a slam dunk case.

Source: Saying publishers’ anti-adblock tactics are illegal, a European privacy advocate plans his attack » Nieman Journalism Lab

OTA privacy audit: News websites privacy practices need vast improvements

Consumer services websites are improving their privacy practices while news sites need vast improvements. That’s according to Tuesday’s release of the 8th annual Online Trust Audit & Honor Roll. Conducted by the Online Trust Alliance, this wide-ranging audit looks at nearly 1,000 consumer-facing websites to assess their consumer protections, privacy practices, and data security.

(…) news and media sites performed the worst. According to the report, the two main failures stem from incomplete privacy policies and “heavy use of third-party data trackers.” Jeff Wilber, who chairs OTA’s board of directors and helped lead this year’s audit, said during a separate phone interview that news sites are the biggest users of “promiscuous trackers” because their business model is so ad-focused. “Privacy is the biggest issue for them, followed by email authentication and then consumer protection,” he added.


Source: Twitter, top OTA privacy audit | IAPP

Retail Execs Deem “Personalization” Creepy, Embrace “Relevancy”

But as the targeting gets more specific, industry giants are shunning the term “personalization” as invasive and robotic. Instead, it’s about “relevancy,” according to executives at some of the world’s biggest retailers.

“We shy away from the word ‘personalization’ and focus more on relevancy, because personal can be, again, getting back to that creepy factor,” Mike Robinson, the executive vice president of digital technology, customer experience, and site merchandising at, said in an interview with BuzzFeed News last week.

Source: Retail Execs Deem “Personalization” Creepy, Embrace “Relevancy” – BuzzFeed News

What publishers should know about the new EU data laws

Dominic Perkins, commercial development director at Time Inc., asked if it makes more sense for publishers to create data co-ops, creating a single identifier in order to be more transparent, and sharing that among them.

Probably, answered Yves Schwarzbart, acting head of policy and regulatory affairs at the IAB U.K. “Simplifying the data processes is in everyone’s interests,” he said. “It needs to start with someone.”

Source: The European Commission has just passed a new EU wide data law, great for personal data protection, not so good for publishers