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These studies and myriad others simply validate what we all already know: clicking through these policies presents little value to consumers.

- Rebecca Slaughter, FTC Commissioner
Welcome to Snippets—The FTC continues a strong start to 2024, landing a "historic" settlement with data broker Outlogic. Despite being a landmark case, public opinions have been split.

For some, the settlement indicates the agency's plan to take a more aggressive stance on one of modern day privacy's biggest issues. For others, it's too little, too late.

Plus, a new study shows the full of extent of user surveillance on Facebook, companies reel as insurers wriggle out of BIPA claims, Privacy Sandbox begins a slow (very slow) rollout, and more. 


Unpacking the FTC’s historic settlement with Outlogic


Alan Schein/Getty Images

The FTC’s settlement with data broker Outlogic, formerly X-Mode Social, has met a mixed response. Some feel it’s a historic step, indicating a coming crackdown on the data broker industry, while others feel it’s unlikely to affect any meaningful change on data brokers’ business model.
  • Outlogic came under scrutiny for ignoring consumer opt-outs, selling data to the US government and other agencies, and failing to notify users about how their data would be used.
  • After an extensive investigation, the FTC barred Outlogic from selling “sensitive location data” and compelled the company to delete any data that was gathered illegally.
  • Though hailed by some as a “landmark” win for American consumers, experts note the settlement does little to address the core issues at hand—mainly that:
    • All location data should be considered sensitive (but isn’t)
    • Providing notice at collection does little to protect privacy (Carnegie Mellon notes it would take 76 working days to read all the privacy policies consumers see in a year)
    • Outlogic itself claimed the FTC order wouldn’t result in any “significant changes” to their business model

Mark you calendars! We're celebrating Privacy Week 🎉

Join us Jan 24 at 9am PT to celebrate the Privacy First awards!

This engaging live event will feature industry experts "The Data Diva" Debbie Reynolds, Nishant Bhajaria, Violet Sullivan, K Royal, and Jeff Jockisch. We’ll be exploring:

  • Privacy leaders’ top goals and challenges for 2024
  • The ‘why’ behind putting Privacy First
  • Reactions to the latest developments in privacy
  • And much more!
Bring your questions, insights, and enthusiasm as we celebrate Privacy Week together. See you there!

Facebook users monitored by thousands of companies


Carlo Cadenas

A study by The Markup and Consumer Reports revealed the vast scale of digital surveillance online—each participant was monitored by an average of 2,230 companies, all of whom were sharing data with Facebook.
  • The study included 709 volunteers and revealed that 186,892 companies total were sending personal data to the social network.
  • Another standout finding? 96% of participants' data was being shared by data broker LiveRamp.
  • Despite limitations, including a self-selected group of users and lack of demographic adjustment, the study provides startling insight into how personal information is aggregated online.


Companies reel as insurers wriggle out of BIPA claims


Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Battle lines have been drawn between businesses and insurers over who pays legal fees for cases tried under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA)—with different courts ruling in opposition on the matter.
  • Initially, the US Court of Appeals ruled that insurers are liable to cover a plaintiff company’s legal costs when litigating an alleged privacy violation.
  • Following that decision, an Illinois appellate court ruled in favor of CAN Financial Corp., citing policy exclusions that precluded the insurer from paying court fees for BIPA violation claims.
  • With insurers able to lean on the most recent ruling to deny coverage, businesses are reeling—BIPA class actions can be prohibitively expensive, even spelling bankruptcy for some.

  • Amazon appeals the €746-million Luxembourg fine.
  • Google updates Incognito Mode tracking warning.
  • The FTC opens proposed COPPA revisions to public comment.
  • The conflict between children’s privacy law and connected TVs.
  • ‘Worst in Show’ winners from the CES 2024 awards.


Privacy Sandbox begins its slow rollout



Following last week’s Privacy Sandbox test launch to 1% of global Chrome users, questions abound on whether Google’s replacement for third-party cookies will be able to balance advertisers’ requirements while protecting user privacy.
  • Privacy Sandbox relies on the Topics API, which groups users with similar interests (identified from browsing history) into audiences for advertisers.
  • Industry reaction to the rollout has been mixed, but smaller companies may feel a greater resource pinch as they adjust their ad strategies.
  • Plus, questions remain on whether the technology sufficiently restricts data collection and tracking, and if it’s Google’s backdoor to monopolizing ad tech.


Plaintiffs explore new theory to crack down on web tracking


Photo Illustration: Jonathan Hurtarte/Bloomberg Law; Photos: Getty Images

Plaintiffs in California have filed over 50 class-action lawsuits, claiming website operators are using web tracking software that acts as an illegal “pen register.”
  • Pen registers are systems that capture the dialing and routing information of communications, without recording the contents.
  • Plaintiffs claim the websites in question use similar code to record user activity and extract sensitive information, such as location, race, and age.
  • This new legal strategy stems from past failures in court—as suits that pursued allegations of wiretapping violations failed to draw penalties due to insufficient evidence.
  • Attorneys believe the new lawsuits may get more traction, as the pen register law is broader and contains fewer exceptions.

Celebrating the top privacy transformations of 2023 💫

To celebrate all that our customers accomplished last year, we launched Data Rights Unwrapped—our first annual, special look at what Transcend customers achieved as privacy leaders in 2023.

We couldn’t be more proud and humbled to partner with so many innovative, industry-leading companies, and are so excited to highlight the transformative impact of their privacy initiatives throughout the year!

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