Let’s make surveillance-based advertising illegal
July 7, 2021 · Return to blog
Recently, the Norwegian Consumer Council published a report calling for a ban on surveillance-based ads. In solidarity, Fathom and other privacy-focused companies signed the following letter on Wednesday, July 7th, to EU and US regulators to encourage them to take action during legislative sessions and any relevant privacy discussions.
At Fathom, we’ve always felt that targeted advertising should be banned, so we are in full support of this letter. True to this belief that changing a broken revenue model based on spying, 13 other tech companies have also co-signed this letter with us. Together, we can demonstrate that digital privacy for everyone is good business, and that EU and US regulations should support this initiative with us.
Here's the letter:
Recently, the Norwegian Consumer Council published a report calling for a ban on surveillance-based ads. In solidarity, we the undersigned will be sending the following letter on Wednesday, July 7th, to EU and US regulators to encourage them to take action during legislative sessions and any relevant privacy discussions.
Time to ban surveillance-based advertising
Surveillance-based advertising permeates the internet today, creating a number of highly problematic issues for both consumers and businesses.
On June 23, a broad coalition of consumer rights organizations, civil rights groups, NGOs, as well as academics, researchers, privacy experts and enthusiasts - all concerned individuals - called on regulators to stop the invasive and privacy-hostile practices related to surveillance-based advertising.
In the EU, they urged regulators to consider a ban on surveillance-based advertising as a part of the Digital Services Act. In the U.S., they urged legislators to enact comprehensive privacy legislation.
We are a group of businesses who write to you today to show our support to this initiative. We represent small, medium and large businesses who all believe - and demonstrate on a daily basis - that it is possible to run profitable companies without exploiting the privacy of individuals.
In addition to the clear privacy issues caused by surveillance-based advertising, it is also detrimental to the business landscape.
In the surveillance-based advertising model, a few actors can obtain competitive advantages by collecting data from across websites and services and dominant platform actors can abuse their positions by giving preference to their own services.
These practices seriously undermine competition and take revenue away from content creators. Anti-competitive behaviour and effects serve to entrench dominant actors’ positions while complex supply chains and ineffective technologies lead to lost revenues for advertisers and publishers.
It is also difficult for consumers to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ actors in the digital sphere, which means that legitimate actors, amongst them many small and medium sized enterprises, are directly affected by the actions of unscrupulous companies.
This harms consumers and businesses, and can undermine the cornerstones of democracy.
Although we recognize that advertising is an important source of revenue for content creators and publishers online, this does not justify the massive commercial surveillance systems set up in attempts to “show the right ad to the right people”.
Other forms of advertising technologies exist, which do not depend on spying on consumers, and alternative models can be implemented without significantly affecting revenue. On the contrary - and that we can attest to - businesses can thrive without privacy-invasive practices.
We encourage you to take a stand and ban surveillance-based advertising.
With kind regards,
- Vivaldi Technologies
Jon von Tetzchner, CEO & Tatsuki Tomita, COO
Bron Gondwana, CEO
- Fathom Analytics
Jack Ellis & Paul Jarvis, Co-Founders & Directors
- Proton Technologies
Dr. Andy Yen, CEO
Matthias Pfau, Co-Founder & CEO
- Duck Duck Go
Gabriel Weinberg, Founder & CEO
Casey Oppenheim, Co-Founder & CEO
Colin Hayhurst, CEO
Christian Kroll, CEO
Robert E.G. Beens, Co-Founder & CEO
Frank Karlitschek, Founder & CEO
Erik Bugge, CEO
- Strossle International
Håkon Tillier, CEO & Rickard Lawson, CMO
Patrick De Schutter, Co-Founder & Managing Director
Fathom has never and will never give/sell data to any surveillance-based advertising companies or data brokers.
This is not our business model, nor is it how we feel businesses can be sustainable. If you'd like to give privacy-focused analytics a try, check out our 7-day free trial of Fathom Analytics. We're GDPR-compliant, our script loads faster than Google Analytics, and our business model is honest: we charge a fair price for our software. Make your website a black-hole to surveillance-capitalism by using Fathom to protect your website visitors.