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Google stymies media companies from chipping away at its data dominance – The Guardian

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By Paresh Dave

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google upended plans by European media companies to block it from harvesting data about their readers and slash some of its dominance in online advertising, seven people involved in the talks said this month.

Publishers had expected to use data privacy measures going into effect Aug. 15 to bar Google from storing insights about readers, sapping the data advantage that has enabled it to dominate a market filled with advertisers hungry for information to target potential customers.

But Google said it will cut off publishers from a lucrative flow of ads if they follow through with curbing its data collection. Negotiations continue, but Google holds greater leverage because it dominates in both advertising tools and access to advertisers within the $100 billion annual global banner ads market.

“You have to basically implement what (Google) expect from you or you’re out of the market – you can’t do without them,” said Thomas Adhumeau, general counsel at S4M, which competes with Google in software for advertisers.

The publishers’ strategy and the ongoing discussions have not been previously reported.

Google repeatedly has outmaneuvered website owners and its competitors over the last decade to ensure its dominance. In several cases, publishers circumvented Google to attract higher prices for ads, only to see Google reassert itself as an indispensable cog.

Rivals and publishers contend some of Google’s actions were unlawfully anticompetitive, and authorities in United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Australia this year are considering pursuing penalties, with some even mulling breaking up Google.

Media giant News Corp this year publicly complained to Australian regulators about Google gaining an advantage over publishers by harvesting audience data. Other companies said they will complain if Google does cut off some ads in August.

Google describes the online ads industry as competitive and says its policies aim to square European Union privacy law with how its ad tools work.

PROTOCOL CHALLENGED

The EU’s two-year-old General Data Protection Regulation requires companies to get users’ permission or have a legitimate reason before handling their data. It prompted the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Europe (IAB), a consortium involving Google along with its clients and partners, to develop a technical protocol known as the Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) for ensuring all of them had the appropriate approvals from consumers.

IAB Chief Executive Townsend Feehan said that pushed by major publishers, the consortium last year agreed to ask users for two separate permissions previously tied together: one to be shown personalized ads, the other to have their personal data collected in a profile.

Some websites and apps planned to omit the second permission. That would starve Google’s profile-building, while still allowing those properties to serve up personalized ads from Google’s clients.

But Google now says consumers must grant both permissions to get personalized ads.

“This is contrary to what was agreed” by the consortium, said Angela Mills Wade, executive director of the European Publishers’ Council.

Chetna Bindra, a senior product manager at Google, said its policy around TCF keeps the status quo.

It “doesn’t change any of our policies for publishers, including our consent policy, which helps ensure users have transparency into and control over how their data is being collected and used to serve personalized ads,” Bindra said.

Some Google rivals such as advertiser software maker MediaMath said they may split the data permissions, giving publishers another way to undercut Google. But they still would have to forgo its bountiful ad supply.

Media groups Axel Springer of Germany and Schibsted of Norway are among those frustrated with Google’s stance.

“We are concerned when big players seek to dictate the ways we should process data,” said Schibsted Chief Privacy Officer Ingvild Ness. “It’s concerning and problematic if we end up in a situation where certain companies become gatekeepers.”

Google uses software, which millions of partner websites rely on to display ads, to track readers’ location, characteristics and the pages and content they consume. These rich profiles allow marketers to target ads to particular users as they browse online.

Publishers, no matter how vast their own audiences, have struggled to compete with the breadth of Google’s profiles.

“When Google harvests that data and enriches their profiles, Google could be seen as bleeding publishers dry one drop at a time,” said Adrien Thil, chief privacy officer at Smart, which competes with Google in publisher software.

Media companies must share revenue with Google to access the unparalleled number of advertiser clients it attracts with its data. Globally, publishers’ share of Google ad revenue has fallen in half to 16% over the last decade, according to a paper released this month by Dina Srinivasan, an antitrust consultant to News Corp.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Lisa Shumaker)

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U.S. looking at banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, Pompeo says – CBC.ca

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the United States is “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, suggesting it shared information with the Chinese government, a charge the company denied.

“I don’t want to get out in front of the president, but it’s something we’re looking at,” Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News, referencing Donald Trump.

U.S. lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok’s handling of user data, saying they were worried about Chinese laws requiring domestic companies “to support and co-operate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Pompeo said Americans should be cautious in using the short-form video app owned by China-based ByteDance.

“Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo remarked when asked if he would recommend that people download TikTok.

In response to his comments, TikTok told Reuters it has never provided user data to China.

“We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” TikTok said in an emailed statement.

The app, which is not available in China, has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience.

Increasing China-U.S. tensions

Pompeo’s remarks also come amid increasing U.S.-China tensions over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, China’s actions in the former British colony of Hong Kong and a nearly two-year trade war.

TikTok was recently banned in India along with 58 other Chinese apps after a border clash between India and China.

Reuters reported late on Monday that TikTok would exit the Hong Kong market within days, after China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the region.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the guarantee of freedoms and far-reaching autonomy under a “one country, two systems” formula agreed to with Britain.

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EU executive expresses concern over Hungary's media freedom – The Guardian

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BUDAPEST (Reuters) – A senior European Commission official has expressed concern for the independence of Index.hu, one of Hungary’s last major independent news websites and a leading critic of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

“What you are doing, the values you are fighting for, media freedom and pluralism, are essential for democracy,” Vera Jourova, the commission’s Vice President for Values and Transparency, said in a message to Index published on its web site. “You can count on my support.”

Editor-in-chief Szabolcs Dull said last month that Index was at risk of losing its independence because of “external influence”.

He said Index wanted to remain free of government influence and undue pressure from businessmen and advisers with government ties.

Orban has extended his influence over many walks of life in Hungary during his decade-long rule.

Pro-government businessman Miklos Vaszily bought a major stake in a company with control of Index’s revenue stream in March, raising fears of interference with the web site to favour Orban.

Vaszily, who has not returned Reuters requests for comment, has denied he wants to muzzle Index, saying economic problems need to be fixed. But staff are on alert as Vaszily had previously turned their competitor, Origo.hu, into a government mouthpiece.

Jourova said Index’s business situation should not be used as a pretext to undermine its freedom.

“While readership and audiences have been record high, revenues have been heavily hit. Economic pressure should not turn into political pressure…I would like to express my solidarity with the staff of Index.”

Media freedom was a key issue when the EU warned Hungary in April to respect the bloc’s values as it fought against the coronavirus pandemic.

(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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New Spark Media Launches 5th Generation UI, which Elegantly Helps Brands Solve for Media Cluster-Flux – Yahoo Finance

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Toronto, Ontario–(Newsfile Corp. – July 7, 2020) – New Spark Media Inc., a leader in UGC management and digital workflow orchestration, is proud to announce the global launch of its v5 UI to its platform. New Spark Media’s solution (previously owned by Filemobile) took off back when YouTube was still its own company and Facebook (or back then “The Facebook”) required a university email address.

Today, every company is a media company in some way. Brands across various industries have to use a handful of niche-market solutions (Facebook / LinkedIn / YouTube / Twitter / Instagram / Tik-Tok) for social media marketing, Influitive for customer advocacy, YotPo for visual commerce, Microsoft Stream for corporate video sharing, DAMs, MAMs, and OVP solution) for every discreet line of business. Add-in the fact that every company’s tech stack is a constantly-evolving organism that requires interoperability, standardized media, taxonomy, and you’ve got yourself a fast-moving mess, or what we’d like to call: cluster-flux.

With this latest launch, we worked hard so our customers don’t have to. We’ve revamped the entire user interface to achieve top tasks more efficiently – from setting up intelligent content gathering capabilities with gamification; to moderating and enriching media content via AI/ML and orchestrating multi-platform distribution either out-of-the-box or as a Platform-as-a-Service via our APIs. By normalizing and visualizing meta-data while automating the distribution workflows, cluster-flux problems are a thing of the past.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""We appreciate the new user interface. It’s easy to use, it’s intuitive and easier to feel more connected to our community through this interface." – Alex Pope, Canadian Geographic.” data-reactid=”22″>“We appreciate the new user interface. It’s easy to use, it’s intuitive and easier to feel more connected to our community through this interface.” – Alex Pope, Canadian Geographic.

Ultimately, New Spark Media is a profitability accelerator for any company. From generating operational efficiencies on the backend to increasing revenue, by harnessing the power of authentic visual stories across internal/external communities and advocates.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Screenshot | Website | API documentation” data-reactid=”24″>Screenshot | Website | API documentation

Contact

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Laurent Bridenne – Laurent@newspark.ca” data-reactid=”26″>Laurent Bridenne – Laurent@newspark.ca

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="About New Spark Media Inc. ” data-reactid=”27″>About New Spark Media Inc.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="New Spark Media (www.newspark.ca) is an Enterprise Media Platform that helps brands simplify how they easily gather, enrich, and publish their rich-media content as a standalone application or in a multi-platform distribution model, at scale, securely, while enforcing meta-data governance. The platform, previously in use by FileMobile, then NewZulu/Crowdspark, has been in operation since 2006.” data-reactid=”28″>New Spark Media (www.newspark.ca) is an Enterprise Media Platform that helps brands simplify how they easily gather, enrich, and publish their rich-media content as a standalone application or in a multi-platform distribution model, at scale, securely, while enforcing meta-data governance. The platform, previously in use by FileMobile, then NewZulu/Crowdspark, has been in operation since 2006.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="To view the source version of this press release, please visit https://www.newsfilecorp.com/release/59247” data-reactid=”36″>To view the source version of this press release, please visit https://www.newsfilecorp.com/release/59247

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