Proposals for Privacy and Competition

Today I testified in front of the US Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing about privacy and competition in the digital advertising space. My testimony is here. Highlights at 32:00 (my oral testimony), 50:00 (when I make an analogy and Senator Graham says "whatever"), and 2:04:30 (when I have a nice chat with Senator Cruz).

A few observations from the experience:

  • These are really complicated issues that are not just hard to explain, they're hard to break into their component parts. How do you address privacy without thinking about whether you're increasing Google's power over the advertising ecosystem? I don't think politicians are equipped to figure out the solutions, which is why I like David Siegel's proposal for a FINRA-like entity.
  • I was pleasantly surprised at what seemed like bipartisan support for federal action on privacy. It seemed like there was cautious support for anti-trust actions, but I think I was the only person in the room willing to say out loud that we should break up Google (though I think the reason they invited me was because my Quora answer on this topic went viral).
  • I was impressed at what seemed like genuine curiosity and concern from many of the senators. There were of course some grandiose statements too, but it felt more like a working session than I expected.
  • Kudos to Senator Blackburn for walking over and saying hi before the session. I am certain that we aren't politically aligned, but it was a classy thing to do. It's a great reminder that we're all on the same team as Americans and citizens of the internet.