Google wants to be the fat co-controller of my audience’s data on MyFootballWrtiter. Do I trust them with that role – or shall we do our own thing with Addiply? Hmmm…

“The policy work around the GDPR is not intended to allow the status quo to perpetuate. We all need to act responsibly, and we certainly did not expect it to be used to try and steal more value from publishers…

Anonymous publishing executive to Digiday, Google’s GDPR Approach Raises Publisher Concerns, 16.04.18

I am a publisher.

A small one, granted.

But over the course of the last 12 years, my audience has grown to trust our intentions on MyFootballWriter.

That we are decent and honourable folk, Gary and I. And we won’t play fast and loose with their individual data.

That others do play fast and loose with your data has come firmly to the fore in the last couple of weeks as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg found himself hauled in front of Congress to answer for his company’s role in alleged voter manipulation during the course of the US elections via a combination of fake news and so-called dark advertising.

Now targetable down to the individual voter level.

It prompted some to call for the banning of targeted advertising altogether. Including David Dayen in The New Republic.

Up till now most of the heat has been on Facebook. Today, Digiday switched the attention back on Google as it musters its thoughts – and its not inconsiderable muscle – ahead of the European Union’s May 25th deadline and the imposition of GDPR.

“Alphabet Inc.’s Google will ask web publishers to obtain consent on its behalf to gather personal information on European users and target ads at them using Google’s systems,” revealed the WSJ last month.

The idea being that Google become a ‘co-controller’ of a user’s data.

So, I, little me and MyFootballWriter, co-control my audience’s data with Googliath.

And pray that nothing goes wrong. And I end up liable.

But it is, under this model, up to me to gain my audience’s consent for this co-controllership. I take the ‘extra steps’ on Google’s behalf.

This is not what most publishers understood the new relationship to be – particularly given how fraught the narrative of asking any audience to share their data with Google is going to be. Now people are starting to sense just how free and easy Google, Facebook and Wall Street are with your innermost online behaviours and habits.

Because GDPR is likely to scale back the Wild West of data collection by ad tech companies and the duopoly, premium publishers are in a uniquely strong position by virtue of their direct, trusted relationships with consumers,” said Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint, in that Digiday piece.

So why give it away now?

Consent is everything.

Would my readers on MyFootballWriter willingly consent to share their data with Google?

And would they thank me for the opportunity to share their Internet browsing history with the US tech giant?

Er, no.

Johnny Ryan’s team at Pagefair today pointed everyone to an update from the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party assigned to give clarity to this on-going process of deciding who is a controller and who is a processor  – and, above all, how explicit anyone needs to be with their consent for what follows data-wise.

This from Page 18:

“Controllers should design consent mechanisms in ways that are clear to data subjects. Controllers must avoid ambiguity and must ensure that the action by which consent is given can be distinguished from other actions. Therefore, merely continuing the ordinary use of a website is not conduct from which one can infer an indication of wishes by the data subject to signify his or her agreement to a proposed processing operation.”

So, Google, I have now got to design a user consent form to be slapped in front of my audience that explicitly – ie ‘avoiding ambiguity’ – explains to Joe Public here in Norfolk what happens to their data now you co-control it?

And I have five weeks to do it?

No chance.

A, I don’t trust you.

And B, I’ve built my own ad tech solution.

That doesn’t sell anyone’s data on to third parties. So I have no explaining to do.

The ad just sits there. Like it would in the window of my local Post Office.

And I haven’t a clue who the people passing are.

It really is none of my business.


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