As part of The Drum’s latest deep dive, The New Data and Privacy Playbook, Ariel Garcia, chief privacy officer at IPG-owned media agency UM Worldwide, argues that it’s important to focus your lens on the meaning of ‘privacy’ for the advertising industry. Now is the right time to expand. ,
As the fifth anniversary of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) approaches, I’ll be celebrating a milestone of my own: my 10th year being part of UM. This is also my third year of the privilege of contributing to Drum’s Data and Privacy Deep Dive, which shares my perspective on the opportunity and imperative of the people-first paradigm for advertising data collection and use that Provides value to consumers and drives sustainable growth for brands. , While I hope to do the same today, a particular milestone demands a more personal approach.
Ten years ago, my plan was to get a steady job, go to law school at night, and move on to a career where I could contribute to a better world — maybe in the non-profit sector, maybe a non-profit that supports human rights. In government organization.
As graduation approached in 2018 — along with the GDPR’s effective date — I realized that I was exactly where I needed to be. I was enamored with UM, had the opportunity to see how great work can shape culture and add value to people’s lives, and felt privileged to be a trusted steward of our clients’ brands can do.
I also realized that Cambridge Analytica makes headlines daily, our industry lives at the intersection of technology and society, setting standards, maintaining market dynamics and supporting the incentive structures that underpin the information economy. does. I recognize that what we do and don’t do, what we accept and expect from our partners can and does have profound effects on society, on democracy, and on individual life and liberty.
I was struck by the reality that while all aspiring lawyers need to know about ‘professional responsibility’, no such universal understanding of fundamental duties or ethical practices exists to guide the collective behavior of our industry.
The industry is at a critical inflection point, what could be a more important opportunity than to contribute to a more responsible future – to move towards new standards that consider the interests of all stakeholders and the impacts on people and society?
Now, what does all this have to do with privacy? Certainly, the key to social good and institutional trust cannot be found in cookie banners. At this point, former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) commissioner Rebecca Slaughter challenged attendees in her 2021 Privacy Con opening remarks to “reject ‘privacy’ as an animating framework.” She urged them to consider that the risks – including algorithmic bias, misinformation, youth safety, individual autonomy and civil rights – are far broader than traditional notions of ‘privacy’. Slaughter suggested instead that we should think of these challenges as “data abuse”.
Indeed, in a world that is becoming increasingly data-driven, any loss can be a data-enabled loss. This formulation better captures the scope of the current challenge – one that requires striking the right balance between privacy, competition and consumer protection in order to create a fair and healthy ecosystem for all – and one that can only be addressed through ‘notice and choice’. ‘ is insufficient to address.
In a connected world, with so much power concentrated in the hands of big tech, is choice little more than an illusion for consumers or marketers? Are people really being asked the right questions?
While studies highlight that consumers understand and appreciate the ad-financed web, claiming that people are happy to share data for personalized experiences, these surveys are not asking people whether they consent to the possibility that their browsing data or mobile location may be used to track their participation in a protest, to unknowingly reveal their sexual orientation or to prosecute them for seeking reproductive health services For. People are not asked whether they are comfortable with their engagement data being used to create a profile, which is used to promote specific messaging anticipated to incite anger with the intent of driving political polarization to give, or to distribute content to your pre-teen child. His body dysmorphia.
Against this backdrop, it becomes clear that the FTC’s focus on tracking pixels and the recent surge in privacy-focused litigation over the Video Privacy Protection Act is not about a specific technology, but about fairness and the inadvertent or unwanted disclosure of personal information. It’s about preventing disclosure.
There are irrefutable and mutual benefits for business and people alike where data is used to deliver value, enhance experience, educate, empower or enable efficiency. But there are also important responsibilities that must be embraced, and guardrails must be installed to minimize harm while preserving benefit.
For this reason, I want to make the same request that Commissioner Slaughter made to his audience – especially as the acceleration of AI development and adoption in the absence of governing ethical standards risks driving current harm on a large scale. Yes, even under the guise of increasing privacy.
We are once again at an inflection point that defines the future. Let us look beyond the narrow notion of ‘privacy’ and commit to making meaningful progress towards mitigating all data-enabled harms.
Let’s align on a common set of principles to guide our thinking, our conduct and our products as an industry – one that focuses on the impact on people’s lives, on cultural norms, on society and on the sustainable development of our businesses considers.
Let us finally stop skimming the edges of personal versus de-identifying information, debating the need for sensible regulation, and reinvest that energy into building a better future.
Let us paint the lanes that separate relevance from manipulation and let us teach practitioners on all sides of the ecosystem how to drive on the right side of the road.
Let us work together to drive practical alignment on what ‘sensitive data’ is, and stop collecting or using it in the ways people demand, rather than scoffing at unnecessarily broad language.
Let us agree, demand and adapt to a reality where youth data is not monetised, and their safety and well-being is never compromised for commercial gain – and instead earns its place in the lives of younger generations Focus on age-appropriate strategies for doing. ,
And then, let’s use these learnings to rediscover the way we connect with audiences of all ages, with a commitment to personal autonomy, preference and expectation, underpinned by authenticity and shared value.
After all, isn’t that what we’re all here for in the first place?
Ariel Garcia is the Chief Privacy Officer at UM Worldwide.
To read more from Drumm’s latest deep dive, where we uncover data and privacy for marketers in 2023, visit our exclusive hub.