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IAB Chief: EU ePrivacy regulation is a 'pernicious assault on free media'

News, 22 August 2017
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GLOBAL: Randall Rothenburg, CEO of the Internet Advertising Bureau, last week took aim at the European Union’s ePrivacy proposals, an addition to the bloc’s forthcoming General Data Protection Legislation, likening the proposals to an attack on the free press.

Writing in the German edition of Business Insider, Rothenburg says the ePrivacy regulation would “strip European publishers of the right to monetize their content through advertising,” eviscerating the business model of online publishers.  

The reason, he says, is that the directive would require all publishers to grant everyone access to their digital properties, “even to users who block their ads, effectively creating a shoplifting entitlement for consumers of news, social media, email services, or entertainment.”

Under ePrivacy, users will be able to opt out of receiving ads, “cookies, web beacons, hidden identifiers, device fingerprinting” and any other device used to track an individual, will need their express consent, according to eConsultancy.

Rothenburg suggested that the regulation would also hurt consumers, as publishers will have to replace a large part of their revenue that comes from advertising. “Consumer fees for the services we receive for free today would add up to hundreds of dollars per month for companies to remain operational”, he writes.

In order to protect a free press, he calls on the bloc to retain the existing part of EU law that allows companies to make access to their services conditional on the ability to serve users targeted ads.

Meanwhile, others have called the accuracy of his statements into question. In an article for Digital Content Next, Don Marti suggests that IAB chief is arguing against the limiting of sites abilities to target users based on user identity.

The regulation, says Marti, “is not so much an attack on the basic functionality of the Internet, as it is a shift that lowers the return on investment on knowing who the user is, and drives up the return on investment on providing search results and content.

He points to a University of Pennsylvania study that revealed 66% of US adults did not want ads tailored to their interests. However, the authors write “when Americans are informed of three common ways that marketers gather data about people in order to tailor ads, even higher percentages - between 73% and 86% - say they would not want such advertising.”

Data sourced form Business Insider, eConsultancy, Digital Content Next, University of Pennsylvania; additional content by WARC staff

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