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Dr Johnny Ryan FRHistS

FRHistS. Chief Policy & Industry Relations Officer at @Brave. Author of ‘A History of the Internet and the Digital Future’ http://amzn.com/1861897774.

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Farewell Brave.

This note announces my departure from Brave to take up two new roles.  After a little more than over two years at Brave, I have moved to new roles at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Open Markets Institute.  The peculiarities of the GDPR, and Ireland’s place in the global economy, mean that regulatory inaction in … Continue reading Farewell Brave.

New data shows publisher revenue impact of cutting 3rd party trackers

This note shares new data on publisher revenue impact from switching off 3rd party ad tracking. In January, the Dutch national broadcaster, NPO, switched off 3rd party tracking ad targeting. NPO has an online video audience of 7.1 million per month, and display reach of 5.8 million per month.[1] Revenue impact I have examined Ster’s revenue figures, … Continue reading New data shows publisher revenue impact of cutting 3rd party trackers

California Privacy Rights Act to define and limit “cross-context behavioral advertising”

Following a court decision on Friday, it is now highly likely that California will introduce legislation that curtails “cross-context behavioral advertising”.  A court decision on Friday (19 June 2020) makes it highly likely that Californians will vote on the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), the successor to the CCPA. Disclosure: I have contributed to the text … Continue reading California Privacy Rights Act to define and limit “cross-context behavioral advertising”

Johnny Ryan’s privacy keynote for P&G

Procter & Gamble invited Dr Johnny Ryan of Brave to give a (remote) keynote address about how advertisers should adapt to the privacy-first future.The presentation covers the problems with conventional advertising technology, risks to brands and media sustainability, and sets out several alternative models. See the video here.  For reasons made clear in this keynote presentation, … Continue reading Johnny Ryan’s privacy keynote for P&G

Industry discussion on the GDPR at 2 years old, and future EU regulatory development

Senior representatives of advertisers, publishers, and intermediaries discuss two years of the the GDPR in a discussion hosted by Brave. Participants: Dr Johnny Ryan, Chief Policy Officer, Brave; Catherine Armitage, Director of Digital Policy, World Federation of Advertisers; Conor Murray, Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs, EGTA; Mathilde Fiquet, Director General, FEDMA. The discussion covers the impacts of the GDPR … Continue reading Industry discussion on the GDPR at 2 years old, and future EU regulatory development

New data on GDPR enforcement agencies reveal why the GDPR is failing

New data from Brave show that European governments have not equipped their national authorities to enforce the GDPR.  Brave presents Europe’s governments are failing the GDPR, a report on data protection authorities’ (DPAs) capacity to enforce against tech infringements of the GDPR. Two years after the GDPR was first applied, the GDPR is now in danger … Continue reading New data on GDPR enforcement agencies reveal why the GDPR is failing

Formal GDPR complaint against Google’s internal data free-for-all

Brave has filed a formal GDPR complaint against Google for infringing the GDPR “purpose limitation” principle. Enforcement would be tantamount to a functional separation of Google’s business.  This morning, Brave filed a formal GDPR complaint against Google for infringing Article 5(1)b of the GDPR, which sets forth the “purpose limitation” principle. Quick facts The GDPR purpose … Continue reading Formal GDPR complaint against Google’s internal data free-for-all

The ICO’s failure to act on RTB, the largest data breach ever recorded in the UK

The ICO has today announced that it will be taking no substantive action to fix “RTB”, the largest data breach ever recorded in the UK. Regulatory ambivalence cannot continue. We are considering all options to put an end to the systemic breach, including direct challenges to the controllers and judicial oversight of the ICO. 

Competition issues in digital markets

This note presents a submission from Dr Johnny Ryan of Brave, and Dr Orla Lynskey of the London School of Economics, to the UK Competition & Markets Authority. 

Brave、GoogleによるGDPR回避を明らかに

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Response to IAB Europe statement on its failure to answer the Irish Data Protection Commission

Dr Johnny Ryan responds to a statement from IAB Europe regarding its failure to answer the Irish Data Protection Commission. Four months on, both I and the Data Protection Commission are still waiting for the first explanation of how “IAB Europe is confident that the way it obtains consent for the use of cookies on its website complies with the requirements of the law”.

Ad Tech GDPR complaint is extended to four more European regulators

GDPR complaints about Real-Time Bidding (RTB) in the online advertising industry were filed today with Data Protection Authorities in Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The complaints detail the vast scale of personal data leakage by Google and other major companies in the “Ad Tech” industry.

Brave alerts the FTC about two major problems in digital media & services markets

Big tech companies “cross-use” user data from one part of their business to prop up others. This hurts innovation & choice. The FTC must investigate. Plus, the GDPR is emerging as a defacto international standard. Whether this helps or harms United States firms will be determined by whether the United States enacts and actively enforces robust federal privacy laws.

French regulator shows deep flaws in IAB’s consent framework and RTB

French regulator’s decision against Vectaury confirms that IAB “Transparency & Consent Framework” does not obtain valid consent, and illustrates how even tiny adtech companies can unlawfully gather millions of people’s personal data from the online advertising “real time bidding system” (RTB). 

Regulatory complaint concerning massive, web-wide data breach by Google and other “ad tech” companies under Europe’s GDPR

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Facebook and adtech face a turbulent time in Europe’s courts: the Brussels case.

This note examines a Belgian court ruling against Facebook’s tracking and approach to consent. Facebook and adtech companies should expect tough sanctions when they find themselves before European courts – unless they change their current approach to data protection and the GDPR.  Facebook is playing a dangerous game of “chicken” with the regulators. First, it has begun to confront users in … Continue reading Facebook and adtech face a turbulent time in Europe’s courts: the Brussels case.

Risks in IAB Europe’s proposed consent mechanism

This note examines the recently published IAB “transparency and consent” proposal. Major flaws render the system unworkable. The real issue is what should be done with the vast majority of the audience who will not give consent.  Publishers would have no control (and are expected to blindly trust 2,000+ adtech companies) The adtech companies[1] who drafted … Continue reading Risks in IAB Europe’s proposed consent mechanism

PageFair writes to all EU Member States about the ePrivacy Regulation

This week PageFair wrote to the permanent representatives of all Member States of the European Union in support for the proposed ePrivacy Regulation. Our remarks were tightly bounded by our expertise in online advertising technology. We do not have an opinion on how the proposed Regulation will impact other areas. The letter addresses four issues: … Continue reading PageFair writes to all EU Member States about the ePrivacy Regulation

PageFair’s long letter to the Article 29 Working Party

This note discusses a letter that PageFair submitted to the Article 29 Working Party. The answers may shape the future of the adtech industry.  Eventually the data protection authorities of Europe will gain a thorough understanding of the adtech industry, and enforce data protection upon it. This will change how the industry works. Until then, we are in … Continue reading PageFair’s long letter to the Article 29 Working Party

GDPR’s non-tracking cookie banners

This note outlines how an anomaly in European law will impact cookie storage and presents wireframes of permission requests for non-tracking cookies.  Online media will soon find itself in an anomalous position. It will be necessary to apply the GDPR’s consent requirements to cookies that reveal no personal data, even though the GDPR was not … Continue reading GDPR’s non-tracking cookie banners

GDPR consent design: how granular must adtech opt-ins be?

This note examines the range of distinct adtech data processing purposes that will require opt-in under the GDPR.[1] In late 2017 the Article 29 Working Party cautioned that “data subjects should be free to choose which purpose they accept, rather than having to consent to a bundle of processing purposes”.[2] Consent requests for multiple purposes … Continue reading GDPR consent design: how granular must adtech opt-ins be?

The Privacy Case for Non-Tracking Cookies: PageFair writes to the European Parliament

In the last month, we have written to the MEPs leading the Parliament’s work on the ePrivacy Regulation (the “rapporteurs”) to propose an amendment. Here is a copy of the letter. PageFair supports the proposed ePrivacy Regulation, in so far as it will change online behavioural advertising. This is an unusual position for an ad tech company, … Continue reading The Privacy Case for Non-Tracking Cookies: PageFair writes to the European Parliament

The 3 biggest challenges in GDPR for online media & advertising

This note explains the three deepest challenges that the online advertising industry must overcome to survive the new European data rules. It also outlines our approach.  The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Regulation (ePR) pose particular challenges for publishers, brands, and adtech companies. These go beyond the normal gap analysis and security overhaul that other businesses … Continue reading The 3 biggest challenges in GDPR for online media & advertising

PageFair statement at European Parliament rapporteur’s ePrivacy Regulation roundtable

Lightly edited transcription of PageFair remarks at rapporteur’s sessions at the European Parliament in Brussels on 29 May 2017, concerning the ePrivacy Regulation.  Statement at roundtable on Articles 9, and 10.  Dr Johnny Ryan: Thank you. PageFair is a European adtech company. We are very much in support of the Regulation as proposed, in so far … Continue reading PageFair statement at European Parliament rapporteur’s ePrivacy Regulation roundtable

Why pseudonymization is not the silver bullet for GDPR.

Pseudonymization will not save online advertising companies from having to seek consent to use browsing and other personal data. This note explains why. Personal data will become toxic in May 2018 when the General Data Protection Regulation is applied, unless data subjects have given consent.[1] Some businesses may try to rely on “pseudonymization”, a partial … Continue reading Why pseudonymization is not the silver bullet for GDPR.

PageFair statement at European Parliament ALDE shadow rapporteurs session on the proposed ePrivacy Regulation

Lightly edited transcription of PageFair remarks at European Parliament ALDE session on 4 May 2017.  Dr Johnny Ryan: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be with you this afternoon. I’ve been on both sides: the adtech side, and the publisher’s side, of the particular part of this story that I want to talk about. Several … Continue reading PageFair statement at European Parliament ALDE shadow rapporteurs session on the proposed ePrivacy Regulation

Supporting new European data regulation

Unusually for an ad-tech company, PageFair supports the proposed ePrivacy Regulation. Here is why. [x_alert type=”success”]Additional note (11 May 2017): our position concerns the proposal’s impact on online behavioural advertising (OBA). Though there are kinks to work out, as we note in our recent statement to Parliament representatives, we strongly endorse the proposal’s broad approach to OBA.[/x_alert]  The … Continue reading Supporting new European data regulation

Why the GDPR ‘legitimate interest’ provision will not save you

The “legitimate interest” provision in the GDPR will not save behavioral advertising and data brokers from the challenge of obtaining consent for personally identifiable data.

As previous PageFair analysis illustrates, personally identifiable data (PII) will become toxic except where it has been obtained and used with consent once the General Data Protection Regulation is applied in May 2018.

Even so, many advertising intermediaries believe that they can continue to use PII data without consent because of an apparent carve-out related to “legitimate interest” contained in the GDPR. This is a false hope.

European Commission proposal will kill 3rd party cookies

The 3rd-party cookie – the lifeblood of online advertising – may be about to die.  A proposal this month from the European Commission to reform the ePrivacy Directive (ePD) requires mandatory privacy options and educates users to distinguish between 1st and 3rd-parties in a way that will make 3rd-party cookies extinct. [prompt type=”left” title=”Access the GDPR/ePR repository” message=”A repository … Continue reading European Commission proposal will kill 3rd party cookies

Ten Key Things That Happened in Q4

Amid the blizzard of press releases and conference tidbits concerning media, advertising, and adblocking, only some really matter. Here are the ten key things that happened in Q4. OCTOBER 1. US Department of Justice examines possible agency shenanigans.  It transpired that the US Department of Justice had launched an investigation into rigged bids that unfairly favored … Continue reading Ten Key Things That Happened in Q4

Publishers – your only weapon is trust

Adblocking—and publisher responses to it—sit at the nexus of two trends: the increasing value of trust in the publisher-consumer relationship, and the emerging conditions of the new information market. The Internet turns many types of information that were once scarce and expensive into overabundant—and therefore cheap—commodities. By corollary, trust and attention have become increasingly valuable. In short: As information becomes cheap, trust becomes precious.

Global stakeholders discuss new approach to the Blocked Web

From late 2015 onward PageFair drew together global consumer groups, advertisers, agencies, publishers and browsers for senior level roundtable discussions on adblocking. These were held at The Financial Times, at Mozilla, and at MEC Global. The most recent roundtable was organised by both PageFair and Digital Content Next. Participants at the PageFair roundtables included the World … Continue reading Global stakeholders discuss new approach to the Blocked Web

The start of something to save publishers on the open Web

In July I wrote on this blog that “online advertising is destroying itself“. That was two days before I joined PageFair and started to work on the problem. Earlier this month (September) I organised a meeting of global publishing leaders in the boardroom of The Financial Times to consider how best to address ad blocking. The … Continue reading The start of something to save publishers on the open Web

Online advertising is destroying itself.

Online advertising is destroying itself. And it is doing so in a way that will fatally undermine online publishers’ sustainability. Increasingly brash formats and data snooping by online advertisers are driving millions of people to sever publishers’ revenue lifelines by blocking all advertising. The outlook is very bleak indeed. Publishers’ are desperate to extract revenues from … Continue reading Online advertising is destroying itself.

Design matters for business, for startups

Originally appeared in The Irish Times on 7 November 2014. Full story is at http://www.irishtimes.com/business/find-your-niche-and-put-focus-on-design-1.1991105  A report by Sir George Cox for the UK Treasury in 2005 started with definitions of three key ingredients that could enhance business competitiveness: creativity, innovation, and design. Creativity, Cox said, is the inception of new ideas, approaches to problems or … Continue reading Design matters for business, for startups

What start-ups need is proof, not passion

I wrote this article for The Irish Times. Full story is at http://www.irishtimes.com/business/what-start-ups-need-is-proof-not-passion-1.1949565. After the dotcom bust, entrepreneurs came to realise the untested hunch was no longer adequate. In 1999, the start-up Webvan launched in the US with the intention of becoming the grocery service for online shoppers. It climbed to a multibillion dollar valuation at … Continue reading What start-ups need is proof, not passion

Designing services for smarter business

I wrote this article on service design for The Irish Times, published on 5 September 2014. Article is at http://www.irishtimes.com/business/designing-services-for-smarter-business-1.1916748 The Apple user or Nespresso drinker appreciates not only the physical good, but the entire experience of interacting with the business A customer’s relationship with a service is often unpleasant and short. But occasionally something … Continue reading Designing services for smarter business

Sustainable growth, not disruption

An edited version of this piece appears in The Irish Times , 1 August 2014 (online here) In defining the criteria by which the judges of The Startup Academy will adjudicate which companies would be accepted into the programme we have done something radical. Normally a competitive process like this might select only the startups … Continue reading Sustainable growth, not disruption

Design Thinking, and thinking like a child, for product design

This is a slightly shortened piece I wrote for The Irish Times on Design Thinking in organisations. Full article is here http://www.irishtimes.com/business/bring-design-thinking-to-your-product-1.1822064 Bring design thinking to your product Thinking like a child could save your business cash US technology investor Dave McClure coined a maxim that sums this challenge up: “Your solution is not my problem.” … Continue reading Design Thinking, and thinking like a child, for product design

Press: “Innovation Academy UCD appoints Dr. Johnny Ryan as Executive Director”

Dublin, 8 April 2014:  The Innovation Academy, UCD, today announced that it has appointed Dr Johnny Ryan as Executive Director.  In his new role Dr. Ryan will take responsibility for the execution of the strategic mission and expansion of the Academy, and management of core operations including staff, programmes, and commercial operations. Dr. Ryan joins the … Continue reading Press: “Innovation Academy UCD appoints Dr. Johnny Ryan as Executive Director”

New role

—- Note: When I wrote this post two years ago I did not complete it. Probably I was preoccupied by taking up the new role. I publish it now with the caveat that this is an early draft, long and meandering. The reader has been warned. —- Oscar mike. I’m on the move, and taking … Continue reading New role

Big Data R&D for the newsroom

As the ratio between quantity of available information and our capacity to absorb it changes, we must be more selective.

New project: Prevent national health crises by mining public discussion and news to predict vaccination uptake

Prevent national health crises by mining public discussion and news to predict vaccination uptake This is the proposal that I submitted yesterday to the Knight Foundation health data challenge. See the proposal, and vote on it if you like it, at the Knight News Challenge. Vaccines matter. We want to predict uptake by mining news … Continue reading New project: Prevent national health crises by mining public discussion and news to predict vaccination uptake

Newspapers and audiences

I’ve received survey data back from a study we ran among Irish Times readers over the last week and they show some interesting things. I was interested to learn just how important readers said analysis was as part of their information intake from The Irish Times. We asked respondents what they valued most when they … Continue reading Newspapers and audiences

A look back at ReformCard: the political reform score card

ReformCard is a measurement tool to rank each political party based on the quality of their policies on political reform to inform the election 2011 debate. It provides the 25 proposals for political reform in Ireland which we believe provide the best possible combination to transform the political system and ensure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century.The starting point is that Ireland’s economic crisis exposed the malfunctioning of the political system. We need to change how politics works to ensure this never happens again.

Interview with internet pioneer Steve Crocker

In a bathroom, at three in the morning in April 1969, a graduate student named Steve Crocker started to write one of the most important documents of the last century. Though drafted in humble circumstances Crocker’s document would set the open, inclusive tone of the next half century of Internet engineering culture, and initiate the process of defining the rules that govern virtually all data exchange on the planet.

Silicon Republic interview: innovation at The Irish Times

I had an opportunity to set out what we are doing at The Irish Times in innovation, research, and working with startups. (Hat tip to John Kennedy of Silicon Republic for letting me copy the video to video to display here.)

Advertising’s historic pivot point

This is a piece I originally published in Contagious. An understandable malaise in ad agencies surrounds all things digital. Low revenues on the one hand and a new answerability to metrics on the other are accompanied by a sense that digital formats remain largely underdeveloped, and that new, possibly unwelcome, surprises await. This is a … Continue reading Advertising’s historic pivot point

Obit: Aaron Swartz

I wrote this obituary for The Irish Times last week. Aaron Swartz, Born: November 8th, 1986 Died: January 11th, 2013 Aaron Swartz took his own life in an apartment in Brooklyn on January 11th. Though only 26 when he died, Swartz had many claims to fame.

The 2012 tech topic, and a guess at the topic of 2013…

A brief note: I was asked to think about the hot topic in tech for 2012, and make a prediction for the hot topic of 2013 by Corriere della sera, an Italian newspaper. It might seem passé, but I think the hot topic of 2012 has been mobile Internet.  The ITU disclosed in June

An experiment in startups working with news media companies: looking back at The Irish Times Digital Challenge

(This post also appeared in The Irish Times on 4 October 2012.) LAST FRIDAY, at The Workman’s Club on Wellington Quay in Dublin, an Irish technology start-up company called GetBulb was announced as the overall winner of The Irish Times Digital Challenge. GetBulb has produced a system that can rapidly create data visualisations suitable for … Continue reading An experiment in startups working with news media companies: looking back at The Irish Times Digital Challenge

Piece on 3D printing in The Irish Times

The Irish Times, 24 September 2012: “3D printers to manufacture a revolution”. (This is a condensed version of a longer piece – read full piece here) THE THREE trends toward cheaper 3D printing, consumer co-creation, and digital distribution should be understood as part of a great adjustment. The current stage of 3D printing is analogous to the … Continue reading Piece on 3D printing in The Irish Times

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