More than a decade ago, Microsoft was branded by the United States government as a greedy monopolist and the company's existence was threatened by an antitrust lawsuit that could have resulted in the then-world's largest software company being broken apart.
Today, memories of Microsoft's past may have largely faded but the Redmond company is still trying to convince consumers that it's cool, and perhaps more importantly, that it's on their side. One of the ways it's doing that: declaring its support for consumer privacy.
It may not be the new kid on the block, but email is, for many companies, one of the most effective and profitable digital marketing channels.
It's not hard to understand why: an email address, like a physical address or phone number, gives companies a means to connect with a known individual across time and space, making it a compelling medium for relationship-building.
Today, the administration of US President Barack Obama announced a blueprint for a "Privacy Bill of Rights."
The goal: "improve consumers’ privacy protections" and "give users more control over how their personal information is used on the Internet", all the while maintaining the internet's status as an "engine for innovation and economic growth."
To achieve that goal, the president has enlisted the help of some of the internet's biggest names, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has increasingly been taking a more active role in trying to make sure that online marketers aren't harming consumers. That has meant, amongst other things, keeping a close eye on marketing taking place through social channels. You know, Kim Kardashian's tweets.
Yesterday, the FTC issued a long-awaited staff report that "proposes a framework to balance the privacy interests of consumers with
innovation that relies on consumer information to develop beneficial new
products and services."
Last November, I suggested that ACTA, the not-so-secret-anymore Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that governments have been negotiating for more than a year, could be "the worst thing for the internet - ever."
And with a 331-294 approval in the EU Parliament, it's one step closer to reality.
Craigslist is an internet icon, and it's a unique one. Despite the
rapid evolution of the internet over the past decade, Craigslist in
2010 still looks like Craigslist in 2000. The fact that Craigslist has
managed to thrive largely its original form is a testament to the value
But Craigslist is under assault. And it's not competitors who are
attacking. It's politicians and the media. The reason: adult service
ads which many say are frequently used in the illegal trafficking of
women and children. And which many argue Craigslist continues to allow
because they're a lucrative source of revenue.
Last year, Google generated $54 billion of economic activity for American businesses, website publishers
and non–profits. That's according to a study released today by the search giant, which has embarked upon a campaign to show Google is not only creating value for Google, but for American businesses, the economy, and job-seekers as well.
And now that Google is an active presence on Capital Hill, it's a move doubtless calculated to portray the company as an economic engine to lawmakers, too, as privacy regulation activity comes slowly into focus. Google is telling its story through the stories of its small business advertisers - a tactic adopted by the IAB in its recent lobbying efforts as well. To underscore the political motivation behind the study, Google breaks down, on a state-by-state basis, which politicians are leveraging Google to communicate with constituents. For example, in New Jersey they name Governor Chris Christie and 11 state Senators and Representatives who communicate with constituents through official YouTube channels.
One of the best ways to start a flame war online: make a claim about the costs of online piracy.
Some, of course, argue that online piracy isn't a problem. Free downloads are free promotion, the argument usually goes. Others, especially those in media industries that have found adjusting to the internet difficult, claim that online piracy is responsible for their woes.
The calls for tough government regulation designed to protect the privacy of internet users are getting stronger in the United States. But could there be unintended fallout if regulations are implemented?
Jeremy Liew, a managing partner at VC firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, thinks so. In his opinion, the impact of the level of regulation that is being demanded "would be enormous for companies relying on online advertising".