President Joe Biden wrote an Wall Street Journal op-ed on January 11, 2023 calling for “serious federal protections for Americans’ privacy.” Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint tweeted out that “I’ll sit down with anyone to explain why privacy integrated with antitrust is the critical issue of our time” and I took him up on his offer. Kint serves as a sort of industry watchdog for surveillance capitalism companies like Google and Facebook/Meta digging through anti-trust court transcripts, depositions, and other buried legal obscurities as he keeps close tabs on the relationship between the dominant players of advertising and their associated data practices.
I wanted to get some of Kint’s takes on the latest privacy frontiers of US law at the federal and state level, some of the recent $400M GDPR enforcement actions against Meta by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, and why he’s keeping so close tabs on the anti-trust and the potential anti-competitive practices of Google and Facebook/Meta’s ad businesses. Digital Content Next is a trade organization that represents the future News and Entertainment companies who are advancing the future of trusted content. He has been tracking how the advertising ecosystem has been steadily growing over many years, but mostly to the benefits Google and Facebook/Meta, which he identified was connected to their surveillance capitalism data collection methods that has been providing deep challenges to the fundamental nature of consumer privacy.
The Verge’s Alex Heath recently reported on Meta’s XR roadmap for the next four years, and the quoted Meta’s vice president for AR Alex Himel as saying, ““We should be able to run a very good ads business,” he said. “I think it’s easy to imagine how ads would show up in space when you have AR glasses on. Our ability to track conversions, which is where there has been a lot of focus as a company, should also be close to 100 percent.”
“If we’re hitting anything near projections, it will be a tremendous business,” he said. “A business unlike anything we’ve seen on mobile phones before.””
Meta has long made it clear that it intends to extend it’s advertising business into extended reality, which has been thwarted by Apple’s tracking transparency changes, which has cost Meta billions of dollars in revenue. If Meta is able to control the entire hardware stack on future AR devices, then they’ll potentially be able to unlock even more advertising dollars.
But in this interview, I wanted to get a lot more of the broader context about the relationship between anti-trust and privacy when it comes to the past behaviors of companies like Facebook/Meta and Google. Especially as the structures and forms of surveillance capitalism are modified and adapted for XR technologies that don’t currently have any broader Neuro Rights protections for the right to mental privacy, right to identity, or right to intentional action.
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