Lawmakers ask FTC to regulate Apple and Google; Business journalism rebounds

Here’s today’s roundup of news… Want it by email? Register here.

extremely disturbing

Apple and Google (although primarily Apple) have been jostling developers with anti-tracking policies and initiatives, like the AppTrackingTransparency framework on iOS and Android Privacy Sandbox.

But that hasn’t kept them out of regulation. On the contrary.

Lawmakers are asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google and Apple over mobile tracking allegations.

On Friday, four Democratic senators (Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, Sara Jacobs and Cory Booker) wrote a letter to FTC Commissioner Lina Khan calling the respective mobile OS duopoly solutions too little too late, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Mobile IDs are apparently anonymous, but “it is often possible to easily identify a particular customer in a dataset of ‘anonymous’ location records by looking to see where they sleep at night,” the letter says. Identifiers, even if devoid of personal information, can still be used to identify a particular device and, from there, the owner of that device.

The senators argue that this constitutes “unfair and deceptive practices”, the legal signal for the FTC to intervene.

Senators also warned of new implications for mobile IDs now that the Supreme Court has officially ruled. quashed Roe v. Wade. “Prosecutors in states where abortion becomes illegal will soon be able to obtain warrants for whereabouts information of anyone who has visited an abortion provider,” they wrote.

The news business

Startup Semafor launches in the fall with a set of incentives tailored to journalists and a goal to break into the corridor of business and political power now dominated by Politico, Axios and Quartz.

The company was founded by Justin Smith, former CEO of Bloomberg Media, and Ben Smith, longtime BuzzFeed editor and New York Times media columnist, and it has added renowned talent in reporting and monetization.

Part of Semafor’s discourse is to “cultivate direct relationships” between readers and journalists, The New York Times reports. A journalist’s signature will be as important as the headlines. And, more concretely, journalists will retain intellectual property rights for movies, shows or book offerings – a key differentiator from, say, the Times or the Washington Post. Semafor will also hire agents to represent and promote reporters and editors.

“I think the business model conditions for global news media are better in 2022 than they have ever been since the internet came along,” Smith told his former employer, The Times. “It has to do with the widespread adoption of subscriptions and the loosening of the grip of technology platforms on global advertising markets.

(Hmmm, maybe this interview took place before the last stock market crash.)

Analyze it

The dominoes keep falling for Google Analytics in Europe.

The last domino was overturned by Italy’s data protection authority, the GPDP, which said late last week that all Italian site operators must stop using Google Analytics. Sites that collect “the IP address of the user’s device and information relating to the browser, operating system, screen resolution, language selected, as well as the date and at the time of viewing the site” (i.e. virtually every site) should remove GA.

This is an insoluble problem for Google, which has already announced that Google Analytics will no longer collect or even store IP addresses next July. This is a huge disruptive change for his clientele. But that’s probably not enough.

The problem for Google is that it is not able to solve the problem. European Sites do not collect IP addresses without consent or unlawfully use the data to target advertisements. But Google is an American company, which means that any data it collects or processes is subject to US government surveillance practices that are illegal in Europe. Google can’t just tighten up its consent language — it needs to change US law and FBI practice.

Good luck with that.

But wait, there’s more!

YouTube influencer marketing CPMs are on the rise… [Morning Brew]

…but still, growth in the creator economy is slowing. [Insider]

Mark Nottingham: What would a Chromium-only website look like (or look like)? [blog]

Cross-platform listeners increase the potential of audio advertising. [Ad Age]

Amazon is facing an exodus of advertising staff following complaints of bloat and bureaucracy. [The Information]

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