U.S. Congress Asked To Ban Digital Ads That Track People

(PatriotHeadline.com)- Congress is being asked to ban all track-and-target advertising business models that are currently being employed by Twitter, Google and Facebook.

As the CEOs of those companies are set to appear before Congress, a coalition of anti-trust, privacy and civil rights groups are demanding that Congress ban “surveillance advertising” by these tech giants.

There are almost 40 organizations that are a part of an open letter that was released on Monday. They are calling for reforms that would prevent these major big tech companies from tracking and then categorizing their users, with an aim to eventually target them with behavioral ads.

As the letter reads:

“Social media giants are eroding our consensus reality and threatening public safety in service of a toxic, extractive business model. There is no silver bullet to remedy this crisis … But here’s one thing we all agree on: It’s time to ban surveillance advertising.”

Personalized advertising has been presented to users by big tech companies as a favor that they’re doing them. They claim that this practice helps to filter out any unwanted ads from being served to consumers.

On the opposite end of that argument, though, are people who believe doing so is very invasive. They believe their personal data is being collected, extracted and eventually sold off to advertisers.

In the process, critics say the social media platforms are becoming intermediaries for ads, providers of ad space and content publishers all at the same time.

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act gives these big tech companies a shield from legal liability when it comes to what’s published on their platforms. This encourages speech that polarizes people, which then encourages more comments, shares, likes and other engagements.

Eventually, this all leads to the big tech companies gathering even more data and personal information on their users, which they then turn around and sell off to advertisers.

The coalition further argues that the current surveillance advertising system also creates a very unequal playing field for the small businesses that are trying to compete for consumers’ eyes through their own advertising. As the letter reads:

“While Facebook and Google portray themselves as lifelines for small businesses … the surveillance-driven stranglehold over the ad market leaves the little guys with no leverage or choice.”

On Thursday of this week, the CEOs of Google, Twitter and Facebook will appear before the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee. They plan to contest the claims that they failed to get hold of the disinformation issue that’s being propagated on each of their individual platforms.

Last month, the committee said in a statement that “industry self-regulation has failed.” It also said it would look at “false claims” regarding COVID-19 vaccines as well as “supposed election fraud.”

The hearing comes about a month after the lead data protection regulator in the European Union recommended banning all surveillance-based advertising. That recommendation was part of a huge overhaul of rules for digital services that they say would increase accountability and transparency.