Okay, Google, How Are Your Fancy Math Recommendation Procedures Working? Just Great, You Say

May 17, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I have no idea what the Tech Transparency Project is. I am not interested in running a Google query for illumination. I don’t want to read jibber jabber from You.com or ChatGPT. In short, I am the ideal dino baby: Set in his ways, disinterested, and skeptical of information from an outfit which wants “transparency” in our shadow age.

I read “YouTube Leads Young Gamers to Videos of Guns, School Shootings.” For the moment, let’s assume that the Transparency folks are absolutely 100 percent off the mark. Google YouTube’s algorithms are humming along with 99.999999 (six sigma land) accuracy. Furthermore, let’s assume that the assertions in the article that the Google YouTube ad machine is providing people with links known to have direct relevance to a user’s YouTube viewing habits.

What’s this mean?

It means that Google is doing a bang up job of protecting young people, impressionable minds, and those who stumble into a forest of probabilities from “bad stuff.” The Transparency Project has selected outlier data and is not understanding the brilliant and precise methods of the Google algorithm wizards. Since people at the Transparency Project do not (I shall assume) work at Google, how can these non-Googlers fathom the subtle functioning of the Google mechanisms. Remember the old chestnut about people who thought cargo planes were a manifestation of God. Well, cargo cult worshippers need to accept the Google reality.

Let’s take a different viewpoint. Google is a pretty careless outfit. Multiple products and internal teams spat with one another over the Foosball table. Power struggles erupt in the stratospheric intellectual heights of Google carpetland and Google Labs. Wizards get promoted and great leaders who live far, far away become the one with the passkey to the smart software control room. Lesser wizards follow instructions, and the result may be what the Tech Transparency write up is describing — mere aberrations, tiny shavings of infinitesimals which could add up to something, or a glitch in a threshold setting caused by a surge of energy released when a Googler learns about a new ChatGPT application.

5 17 professor explaining

A researcher explaining how popular online video services can shape young minds. As Charles Colson observed, “Once you have them by the [unmentionables], their hearts and minds will follow.” True or false when it comes to pumping video information into immature minds of those seven to 14 years old? False, of course. Balderdash. Anyone suggesting such psychological operations is unfit to express an opinion. That sounds reasonable, right? Art happily generated by the tireless servant of creators — MidJourney, of course.

The write up states:

  • YouTube recommended hundreds of videos about guns and gun violence to accounts for boys interested in video games, according to a new study.
  • Some of the recommended videos gave instructions on how to convert guns into automatic weapons or depicted school shootings.
  • The gamer accounts that watched the YouTube-recommended videos got served a much higher volume of gun- and shooting-related content.
  • Many of the videos violated YouTube’s own policies on firearms, violence, and child safety, and YouTube took no apparent steps to age-restrict them.

And what supports these assertions which fly in the face of Googzilla’s assertions about risk, filtering, concern for youth, yada yada yada?

Let me present one statement from the cited article:

The study found YouTube recommending numerous other weapons-related videos to minors that violated the platform’s policies. For example, YouTube’s algorithm pushed a video titled “Mag-Fed 20MM Rifle with Suppressor” to the 14-year-old who watched recommended content. The description on the 24-second video, which was uploaded 16 years ago and has 4.8 million views, names the rifle and suppressor and links to a website selling them. That’s a clear violation of YouTube’s firearms policy, which does not allow content that includes “Links in the title or description of your video to sites where firearms or the accessories noted above are sold.”

What’s YouTube doing?

In my opinion, here’s the goal:

  • Generate clicks
  • Push content which may attract ads from companies looking to reach a specific demographic
  • Ignore the suits-in-carpetland in order to get a bonus, promoted, or a better job.

The culprit is, from my point of view, the disconnect between Google’s incentive plans for employees and the hand waving baloney in its public statements and footnote heavy PR like ““Ethical and Social Risks of Harm from Language Models.”

If you are wearing Google glasses, you may want to check out the company with a couple of other people who are scrutinizing the disconnect between what Google says and what Google does.

So which is correct? The Google is doing God, oh, sorry, doing good. Or, the Google is playing with kiddie attention to further its own agenda?

A suggestion for the researchers: Capture the pre-roll ads, the mid-roll ads, and the end-roll ads. Isn’t there data in those observations?

Stephen E Arnold, May 17, 2023

Digital Tech Journalism Killed by a Digital Elephant

May 4, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumbNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I read a labored explanation, analysis, and rhetorical howl from Slate.com. The article is “Digital Media’s Original Sin: The Big Tech Bubble Burst and the News Industry Got Splattered with Shrapnel.” The article states:

For years, the tech industry has propped up digital journalism with advertising revenue, venture capital injections, and far-reaching social platforms.

My view is that the reason for the problem in digital tech journalism is the elephant. When electronic information flows, it acts in a way similar to water eroding soil. In short, flows of electronic information have what I call a “deconstructive element.” The “information business” once consisted of discrete platforms, essentially isolated by choice and by accident. Who in your immediate locale pays attention to the information published in the American Journal of Mathematics? Who reads Craigslist for listings of low-ball vacation rentals near Alex Murdaugh’s “estate”?

Convert this content to digital form and dump the physical form of the data. Then live in a dream world in which those who want the information will flock to a specific digital destination and pay big money for the one story or the privilege of browsing information which may or may not be  accurate. Slate points out that it did not work out.

But what’s the elephant? Digital information to people today is like water to the goldfish in a bowl. It is just there.

The elephant was spawned by a few outfits which figured out that paying money to put content in front of eyeballs. The elephant grew and developed new capabilities; for example, the “pay to play” model of GoTo.com morphed into Overture.com and became something Yahoo.com thought would be super duper. However, the Google was inspired by “pay to play” and had the technical ability to create a system for creating a market from traffic, charging people to put content in front of the eyeballs, and charge anyone in the enabling chain money to use the Google system.

The combination of digital flows’ deconstructive operation plus the quasi-monopolization of online advertising death lethal blows to the crowd Slate addresses. Now the elephant has morphed again, and it is stomping around in the space defined by TikTok. A visual medium with advertising poses a threat to the remaining information producers as well as to Google itself.

The elephant is not immortal. But right now no group is armed with Mossberg Patriot Laminate Marinecotes and the skill to kill the elephant. Electronic information gulping advertising revenue may prove to be harder to kill than a cockroach. Maybe that’s why most people ask, “What elephant?”

Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2023

Gotcha, Googzilla: Bing Channels GoTo, Overture, and Yahoo with Smart Software

April 5, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumbNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I read “That Was Fast! Microsoft Slips Ads into AI-Powered Bing Chat.” Not exactly a surprise? No, nope. Microsoft now understands that offering those who want to put a message in front of eye balls generates money. Google is the poster child of Madison Avenue on steroids.

The write up says:

We are also exploring additional capabilities for publishers including our more than 7,500 Microsoft Start partner brands. We recently met with some of our partners to begin exploring ideas and to get feedback on how we can continue to distribute content in a way that is meaningful in traffic and revenue for our partners.

Just 7,500? Why not more? Do you think Microsoft will follow the Google playbook, just enhanced with the catnip of smart software? If you respond, “yes,” you are on the monetization supersonic jet. Buckle up.

Here are my predictions based on what little I know about Google’s “legacy”:

  1. Money talks; therefore, the ad filtering system will be compromised by those with access to getting ads into the “system”. (Do you believe that software and human filtering systems are perfect? I have a bridge to sell you.)
  2. The content will be warped by ads. This is the gravity principle: Get to close to big money and the good intentions get sucked into the advertisers’ universe. Maybe it is roses and Pepsi Cola in the black hole, but I know it will not contain good intentions with mustard.
  3. The notion of a balanced output, objectivity, or content selected by a smart algorithm will be fiddled. How do I know? I would point to the importance of payoffs in 1950s rock and roll radio and the advertising business. How about a week on a yacht? Okay, I will send details. No strings, of course.
  4. And guard rails? Yep, keep content that makes advertisers — particularly big advertisers — happy. Block or suppress content that makes advertisers — particularly big advertisers – unhappy.

Do I have other predictions? Oh, yes. Why not formulate your own ideas after reading “BingBang: AAD Misconfiguration Led to Bing.com Results Manipulation and Account Takeover.” Bingo!

Net net: Microsoft has an opportunity to become the new Google. What could go wrong?

Stephen E Arnold, April 5, 2023

TikTok: Some Interesting Assertions

March 22, 2023

Note: This essay is the work of a real, still-living dinobaby. I am too dumb to use smart software.

I read the “testimony” posted by someone at the House of Representatives. No, the document did not include, “Congressman, thank you for the question. I don’t have the information at hand. I will send it to your office.” As a result, the explanation reflects hand crafting by numerous anonymous wordsmiths. Singapore. Children. Everything is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The quip “NSA to go” is shorter and easier to say.

Therefore, I want to turn my attention to the newspaper in the form of a magazine. The Economist published “How TikTok Broke Social Media.” Great Economist stuff! When I worked at a blue chip consulting outfit in the 1970s, one had to have read the publication. I looked at help wanted  ads and the tech section, usually a page or two. The rest of the content was MBA speak, and I was up to my ears in that blather from the numerous meetings through which I suffered.

With modest enthusiasm I worked my way through the analysis of social media. I circled several paragraphs, I noticed one big thing — The phrase “broke social media.” Social media was in my opinion, immune to breaking. The reason is that online services are what I call “ghost like.” Sure, there is one service, which may go away. Within a short span of time, like eight year olds playing amoeba soccer, another gains traction and picks up users and evolves sticky services. Killing social media is like shooting ping pong balls into a Tesla sized blob of Jell-O, an early form of the morphing Terminator robot.  In short, the Jell-O keeps on quivering, sometimes for a long, long time, judging from my mother’s ability to make one Jell-O dessert and keep serving it for weeks. Then there was another one. Thus, the premise of the write up is wrong.

I do want to highlight one statement in the essay:

The social apps will not be the only losers in this new, trickier ad environment. “All advertising is about what the next-best alternative is,” says Brian Wieser of Madison and Wall, an advertising consultancy. Most advertisers allocate a budget to spend on ads on a particular platform, he says, and “the budget is the budget”, regardless of how far it goes. If social-media advertising becomes less effective across the board, it will be bad news not just for the platforms that sell those ads, but for the advertisers that buy them.

My view is shaped by more than 50 years in the online information business. New forms of messaging and monetization are enabled by technology. On example is a thought experiment: What will an advertiser pay to influence the output of a content generator infused with smart software. I have first hand information that one company is selling AI-generated content specifically to influence what appears when a product is reviewed. The technique involves automation, a carousel of fake personas (sockpuppets to some), and carefully shaped inputs to the content generation system. Now is this advertising like a short video? Sure, because the output can be in the form of images or a short machine-generated video using machine generated “real” people. Is this type of “advertising” going to morph and find its way into the next Discord or Telegram public user group?

My hunch is that this type of conscious manipulation and automation is what can be conceptualized as “spawn of the Google.”

Net net: Social media is not “broken.” Advertising will find a way… because money. Heinous psychological manipulation. Exploited by big companies. Absolutely.

Stephen E Arnold, March 22, 2023

Google: So Clever, So So Clever

February 6, 2023

I read a good summary of the US and state governments’ allegations about the behavior of the Google ad machine. I recommend “How Google Manipulated Digital Ad Prices and Hurt Publishers, Per DOJ.” The write up provides some useful insight into how the Google management environment has created a culture of being really cute, possibly really clever. The methods employed reminded me of a group of high school science club members pranking the hapless administration of a secondary school. Fun and being able to be smarter than everyone else is the name of the game.

Let me cite one example from the write up because it is short, to the point, and leaves little room for a statement like, “Senator, I did not know how the system’s components worked. I will provide the information you need. Again, I am sorry.” Does that line sound familiar? I left out the “Senator, thank you for the question” but otherwise the sentiment seems in tune with the song some companies sing to semi-aware elected officials.

Google Ads allegedly submitted two bid prices, unbeknownst to advertisers and publishers, effectively controlling the winning bids and the price floors. To entrench its market power even further, the suit argues Google started manipulating ad prices under a different method, which it dubbed “Bernanke.” Starting in 2013, according to the suit, Google Ads would submit bid prices to AdX above the amount advertisers had budgeted, in order to win high-value impressions for a group of publishers — the ones most likely to switch ad tech platforms. This insight could only be obtained by leveraging data in Google’s own publisher ad server. Once AdX cleared the bids, Google Ads would offset the losses by charging higher fees to other publishers less likely to switch ad tech providers. This scheme allegedly helped Google lock in key publishers away from other ad exchanges and ad buying tools, all while maintaining its profits at the expense of other smaller publishers.

Once of the best jobs I had in my life was my stint at the Courier-Journal & Louisville Times Co. That newspaper, like many others, has been unable to cope with the digital revolution. Outfits like Google and their clever methods may have hastened the financial precipice on which many publishers teeter.

My concern is that this particular method — just one of many I assume — has been grinding out cash for the Google for about a decade. Now there is some action, but I think the far more important challenge Google faces will be the active consumer uptake of newer options. These may prove to be familiar with Clever Avenue.

I hope these AI-informed travelers take the road called Ethical Behavior Boulevard.

Stephen E Arnold, February 6, 2023

Amazing Statement about Google

January 17, 2023

I am not into Twitter. I think that intelware and policeware vendors find the Twitter content interesting. A few of them may be annoyed that the Twitter application programming interface seems go have gone on a walkabout. One of the analyses of Twitter I noted this morning (January 15, 2023, 1035 am) is “Twitter’s Latest ‘Feature’ Is How You Know Elon Musk Is in Over His Head. It’s the Cautionary Tale Every Business Needs to Hear.”

I want to skip over the Twitter palpitations and focus on one sentence:

At least, with Google, the company is good enough at what it does that you can at least squint and sort of see that when it changes its algorithm, it does it to deliver a better experience to its users–people who search for answers on Google.

What about that “at least”? Also, what do you make of the “you can at least squint and sort of see that when it [Google] changes its algorithm”? Squint to see clearly. Into Google? Hmmm. I can squint all day at a result like this and not see anything except advertising and a plug for the Google Cloud for the query online hosting:


Helpful? Sure to Google, not to this user.

Now consider the favorite Google marketing chestnut, “a better experience.” Ads and a plug for Google does not deliver to me a better experience. Compare the results for the “online hosting” query to those from www.you.com:


Google is the first result, which suggests some voodoo in the search engine optimization area. The other results point to a free hosting service, a PC Magazine review article (which is often an interesting editorial method to talk about) and an outfit called Online Hosting Solution.

Which is better? Google’s ads and self promotion or the new You.com pointer to Google and some sort of relevant links?

Now let’s run the query “online hosting” on Yandex.com (not the Russian language version). Here’s what I get:


Note that the first link is to a particular vendor with no ad label slapped on the link. The other links are to listicle articles which present a group of hosting companies for the person running the query to consider.

Of the three services, which requires the “squint” test. I suppose one can squint at the Google result and conclude that it is just wonderful, just not for objective results. The You.com results are a random list of mostly relevant links. But that top hit pointing at Google Cloud makes me suspicious. Why Google? Why not Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, the fascinating Epik.com, or another vendor?

In this set of three, Yandex.com strikes me as delivering cleaner, more on point results. Your mileage may vary.

In my experience, systems which deliver answers are a quest. Most of the systems to which I have been exposed seem the digital equivalent of a ride with Don Quixote. The windmills of relevance remain at risk.

Stephen E Arnold, January 17, 2023

Are Facebook and Google Monopolies: Nope, Shrinking Share of Online Ads. Proof!

December 29, 2022

I read an interesting article, but I have my doubts about the numbers. The story is from one of the “last person standing” in the Silicon Valley real news datasphere. In the last month or so, the tone of write ups about two of America’s most lovable and well managed companies has turned south, well, maybe south by southwest.

Share of US Digital Ad Spend, by Company Type” reports:

Google and Meta will together capture 48.4% of all U.S. digital ad revenue this year (28.8% for Google and 19.6% for Meta), down from 54.7% at their peak in 2017 (34.7% for Google and 20.0% for Meta), per data from Insider Intelligence.

And what about the lovable Bezos bulldozer driven pedal to the metal by Andy Jassy? The article states:

  • By far, the biggest threat to their collective ad dominance is Amazon, which has grown its ad business to over $30 billion dollars annually.
  • By 2024, Amazon is expected to capture 12.7% of all U.S. digital ad dollars, while Meta is expected to capture 17.9%.

TikTok is no big whoop. I suppose that’s why the tech giants are becoming pretzels in their effort create short form content.

Several observations:

  1. I am not sure how these data were gathered nor the methods used to present such remarkable precision as 54.7 percent in a prediction is an indication that someone did not pay attention in Statistics 101
  2. Amazon’s ad data are more interesting when the slope between the firm’s ad revenue in 2018 is plotted against Amazon’s ad revenue in 2021. That a slope!
  3. Blowing off TikTok is problematic. Does the data consider influencers who accept some type of compensation in return for merchandise, trips, or some other fungible asset like a super duper hair curling device?

To sum up: I am not prepared to label those wonderful wizards at Facebook and Google as crew on a doomed steamship named MY Failure.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2022

Google and Its Puzzles: Insiders Only, Please

December 26, 2022

ProPublica made available an article of some importance in my opinion. “Porn, Piracy, Fraud: What Lurks Inside Google’s Black Box Ad Empire” walks through the intentional, quite specific engineering of its crucial advertising system to maximize revenue and befuddle (is “defraud” a synonym?) advertisers. I was asked more than a decade ago to do a presentation of my team’s research into Google’s advertising methodology. I declined. At that time, I was doing some consulting work for a company I am not permitted to name. That contract stipulated that I would not talk about a certain firm’s business technologies. I signed because… money.

The ProPublica essay does the revealing about what is presented as a duplicitous, underhanded, and probably illegal business process subsystem. I don’t have to present any of the information I have gathered over the years. I can cite this important article and point out several rocks which the capable writers at ProPublica either did not notice or flipped them over and concluded, “Nah, nothing to see here.”

I urge you to do two things. First, read the ProPublica write up. Number Two: Print it out. My hunch is that it may be disappeared or become quite difficult to find at some point in the future. Why? Ah, grasshopper, that is a question easily answered by the managers who set up Foundem and who were stomped by Googzilla. Alternatively you could chase down a person at the French government tax authority and ask, “Why were French tax forms not findable via a Google search for several years.” These individuals might have the information you need. Shifting gears: Ask Magix, the software company responsible for Sony Vegas why cracks for the software appear in YouTube videos. If you use your imagination, you will come up with ideas for gathering first person information about the lovable online advertising company’s systems and methods. Hint: Look up Dr. Timnit Gebru and inquire about her interactions with one of Google chief scientists. I guarantee that a useful anecdote will bubble up.

So what’s in the write up. Let me highlight a main point and then cite a handful of interesting statements in the article.

What is the main point? In my opinion, ProPublica’s write up says, “The GOOG maximizes its return at the expense of the advertisers and of the users.”

Who knew? Not me. I think the Alphabet Google YouTube DeepMind outfit is the most wonderfulest company in the world. Remember: You heard this here first. I have a priceless Google mouse pad too.

Consider these three statements from the essay. First, Google lingo is interesting:

Google spokesperson Michael Aciman said the company uses a combination of human oversight, automation and self-serve tools to protect ad buyers and said publisher confidentiality is not associated with abuse or low quality.

The idea is that Google is interested in using a hybrid method to protect ad buyers. Plus there is a difference between publishers and confidentiality. I find it interesting that instead of talking about [a] the ads themselves (porn, drugs, etc.), [b] the buyers of advertising which is a distinct industry dependent upon Google for revenue, [c] the companies who want to get their message in front of people allegedly interested in the product of service, or [d] the user of search or some other Google service. Google wants to “protect ad buyers.” And what about the others I have identified? Google doesn’t care. Logical sure but doesn’t Google have the other entities in mind? That’s a question regulators should have asked and had answered after Google settle the litigation with Yahoo over advertising technology, at the time of Google’s acquisition of Oingo (Applied Semantics), or at the time Google acquired DoubleClick. In my opinion, much of the ProPublica write up operates in a neverland of weird Google speak, not the reality of harvesting money from those largely in the dark about what’s happening in the business processes.

Second, consider this statement:

we matched 70% of the accounts in Google’s ad sellers list to one or more domains or apps, more than any dataset ProPublica is aware of. But we couldn’t find all of Google’s publisher partners. What we did find was a system so large, secretive and bafflingly complex that it proved impossible to uncover everyone Google works with and where it’s sending advertisers’ money.

The passage seems to suggest that Google’s engineers went beyond clever and ventured into the murky acreage of intentional obfuscation. It seems as if Google wanted to be able to consume advertising budgets without any entity having the ability to determine [a] if the ad were displayed in a suitable context; that is, did the advertiser’s message match the needs of the user to who the ad was shown.  And [b] was the ad appropriate even if it contained words and phrases on Google’s unofficial stop word lists. (If you have not see these, send an email to benkent2020 at yahoo dot com and one of my team will email you some of the more interesting words that guarantee Google’s somewhat lax processes will definitely try to block. If a word is not on a Google stop list, then the messages will probably be displayed. Remember: As Google terminates six percent of its staff, some of those humans presumably will not be able to review ads per item one above. And [c] note the word “bafflingly”. The focus of much Google engineering over the last 15 years has been to build competitive barriers, extent the monopoly function with “partners”, and double talk in order to keep regulators and curious Congressional people away. That’s my take on  this passage.

Now for the third passage I will cite:

…we uncovered scores of previously unreported peddlers of pirated content, porn and fake audiences that take advantage of Google’s lax oversight to rake in revenue.

I don’t need to say much more about this statement that look at and think about pirated content (copyright), porn (illegal content in some jurisdictions) and fake audiences (cyber fraud). Does this statement suggest that Google is a criminal enterprise? That’s a good question.

I have some high level observations about this excellent article in ProPublica. I offer these in the hope that ProPublica will explore some of these topics or an enterprising graduate student will consider the statements and do some digging.

  1. Why is Google unable to manage its staff? This is an important question because the ad behaviors described in the ProPublica article are the result of executive compensation plans and incentives. Are employees rewarded for implementing operations that further “soft” fraud or worse?
  2. How will Google operate in a more fragmented, more regulated environment? Is one possible behavior a refusal to modify the guiding hand of compensation and incentive programs away from generating more and more money within external constraints? My hunch is that Google will do whatever is necessary to build its revenue.
  3. What mechanisms exist or will be implemented to keep Google’s automated systems operating in a legal, ethical way?

Net net: Finally, after decades of craziness about how wonderful Googzilla is, more critical research is appearing. Is it too little and too late? In my view, yes.

Stephen E Arnold, December 26, 2022

Trackers? More Plentiful Than Baloney Press Releases

December 22, 2022

You are absolutely correct if you think more Web sites are asking you to approve their cookie settings. More Web sites are tracking your personal information to send you targeted ads. Tech Radar explains more about trackers in, “You’re Not Wrong-Websites Have Way More Trackers Now.”

NordVPN discovered that the average Web site has forty-eight trackers and it is putting users at risk. NordVPN used three tracker blockers (Badger, Brave, and uBlock Origin) to count the number of trackers across the one hundred more popular Web sites in twenty-five countries. Social media platforms had the most trackers at 160, health Web sites were the second with forty-six, and digital media Web sites have twenty-eight. Ironically government and adult Web sites had the least amount of trackers.

Third parties were tied to the trackers. Thirty percent belonged to Google, 11% to Facebook, and Adobe had 7%. All data is used for marketing reasons. North and Central Europe had the least amount of trackers, because of privacy laws. The US is a tracker’s playground, because there are not any blanket laws that protect user privacy. It is an Orwellian system for capitalist purposes:

“For NordVPN, the problem with collecting this data is that it can be used to profile the users in great detail. The profile is then sold to advertising companies, whose ads “follow” the users around the internet to collect even more data.

Worse still, cybercriminals might get their hands on this data at any point, and could then use this data in phishing attacks that use a victim’s in-depth personal profile to appear authentic, making them more likely to fall for the ruse.”

The article doubles as a marketing tool for VPN services, particularly NordVPN. VPNs collect user information too, except they can hide it. Interesting how the article wants to inform people about the dangers of tracking and wants to sell a product too.

Whitney Grace, December 22, 2022

The Zuck, Personalized Advertising, and the European Data Protection Board Battle Royale 2023

December 13, 2022

I read “EDPB Adopts Art. 65 Dispute Resolution Binding Decisions Regarding Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp”. The less-then-exciting prose makes clear that the pesky EU and its GDPR ideas are not going away. The official document, dated December 6, 2022, stated:

The Facebook and Instagram draft decisions concern, in particular, the lawfulness and transparency of processing for behavioural advertising. The WhatsApp draft decision concerns notably the lawfulness of processing for the purpose of the improvement of services. Several SAs issued objections on the draft decisions prepared by the Irish SA concerning, among others, the legal basis for processing (Art. 6 GDPR), data protection principles (Art. 5 GDPR), and the use of corrective measures including fines.

After a few more committee meetings, more information will be posted.

This seems pretty innocuous. Another EU regulation, delays, discussions, and inevitable litigation.

Nevertheless, several observations appear to be warranted by your trusty observer in rural Kentucky:

  1. Will the EU and its state entities levy fines? My hunch is, “Ka-ching” sound a number of times. Go where the money is before the money runs out.
  2. Will the personalized ad contagion spread to other US outfits? My initial reaction is, “Not even a China-style Covid lockdown can prevent the problem from spreading, morphing, and befuddling some legal eagles.”
  3. Will the personalized advertisers change? My instinct is that there will be some change. But it will be inspired by Google’s attempt to deal with its tracking methods.
  4. Will the issue penetrate the hermetically sealed walls of the Apple spaceship? Let me go out on a limb and suggest, “Yep, Level Four containment will be breached.”
  5. What does consenting to terms and conditions for a service mean? Here’s my take: “Grounds for legal action because… consumers.”

Stephen E Arnold, December 13, 2022

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