How Calls for Privacy May Upend Business for Facebook and Google

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How Calls for Privacy May Upend Business for Facebook and Google
Congress might pass targeted legislation to restrict consumer data use in specific sectors, such as a Senate bill
that would require increased transparency in online political advertising, said Daniel J. Weitzner, director of the Internet Policy Research Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“This is the moment when Europeans turn to the state for protection
and answers, and are less likely than Americans to rely on the market to sort out imbalances.”
In May, the European Union is instituting a comprehensive new privacy law, called the General Data Protection Regulation.
“With the new European law, regulators for the first time have real enforcement tools,” said Jeffrey Chester,
the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a nonprofit group in Washington.
Privacy advocates and even some United States regulators have long been concerned about the ability of online services to track consumers
and make inferences about their financial status, health concerns and other intimate details to show them behavior-based ads.
“If your personal information can help sway elections, which affects everyone’s life and societal well-being, maybe privacy does matter after all.”
But some trade group executives also warned that any attempt to curb the use of consumer
data would put the business model of the ad-supported internet at risk.
Although many people had a general understanding that free online services used their personal
details to customize the ads they saw, the latest controversy starkly exposed the machinery.

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