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Originally posted by SkepticOverlord
The free and independent Internet is at risk, from an unexpected threat positioned as protection of "online privacy," which may end up as no more than giving unfair advantage to major media corporations. U.S. Congressman Rich Boucher (southwestern Virginia) is spearheading legislation couched as privacy protection which may result in the elimination of thousands upon thousands of small independent websites, including AboveTopSecret.com.
Boucher, who is chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet (and who is backed by a long-list of big-media dollars) is proposing legislation that will effectively eliminate third-party ad networks as an option for small to mid-sized websites. Our contacts in the industry fear that, due to his hotly contested re-election efforts, the proposed legislation will reach the house floor before the end of the year.
The essence of his proposal is to require websites such as ATS to first ask your permission before using any third-party cookies. This would mean that sites like us could not display third-party ad networks until you opt-in with your approval. The end result would be a significant, if not complete, drop in the only source of revenue for small independent websites.
While well-intended, the efforts are based on gross paranoia about cookies and personal information. The "behavioral targeting" being used by the third part ad networks does not contain nor collects any personally-identifiable information. Instead, the collected information is used in an attempt to deliver better ads, and reduce the amount of repeat ads you see. While there have been spotty abuses of unscrupulous companies, no one can point to actual problems of privacy or personal information abuse of the ad networks... the fears are all based on worst-case speculation and "what-if" scenarios.
What It Means
Devastation of the free and independent web.
There are thousands... perhaps hundreds-of-thousands... of small independent websites who all rely on modest to significant income from third-party ad networks to pay the bills for their existence. And the ecosystem of support, from hosting companies to professional services vendors, that provide various levels of service to the huge number of independent web publishers would similarly be demolished.
This issue extends far-beyond ATS to small free websites with Google ads and/or banners from the likes of ValueClick that provide just enough income to pay for the hosting. Those free and independent voices, even those who are critical of us, could be silenced... and it's a travesty beyond imagination.
Why It Would Hurt Small Sites
The big media companies have the means to forge direct relationships with advertisers as well as manage their own ad servers... thereby bypassing the issue of "third-party" ad networks and the related concerns of cookies. The proposed legislation would heavily favor these companies as online advertisers would then have no option but to work directly with big-media websites.
On ATS, there are more than 1,200 different companies that advertise here in any given month. Eliminating the option of using a third-party ad network would require us to attempt to engage every potential advertiser directly, and deploy our own ad-serving technology. That would be a task well-beyond our means, and certainly out of the question for smaller sites.
The End Does Not Justify Means
No one will argue with the need to be concerned about the use of the data collected by online ad networks. There are just as many valid reasons for concern as there are gross misrepresentations about the potential danger of cookies from third-parties.
However, in my opinion, this issue has become inappropriately politicized and spun such that legislation posed as privacy protection is nothing more than a serious effort to shut-down the independent web in favor of the Internet efforts of big media. The wrong solution to a (mostly) imagined problem.
What Can We Do?
I have been, and continue to be directly involved with various Internet advertising groups. My efforts are focused on representing the concerns of a highly-viable and massive small business segment. From a commerce and business standpoint, this effort is important.
However, users of websites (YOU) who are concerned about the possible loss of the independent web deserve to be noticed and heard. If we (ATS) were to organize an online petition effort, would you support that?
Such a petition effort would cross the line of our stated principals of limiting advocacy within the borders of ATS, but I think this is a vitally important issue of concern to our members and the thousands of small website on which you find inspiration. As such, before we engage in any petition of Internet users, I thought it logical to bring it up to you for discussion and consideration.
Is this something we should do? If you think it is, I will bring to bear all that I know to ensure your opinions are noticed in an independent effort (not directly related to ATS) all users of the web could embrace.
The Government's Plan To Kill Independent Web Sites
House Bill Takes Aim At Web Privacy
A Call to Legislate Internet Privacy
Boucher, Perriello in cross hairs as GOP eyes 2010
Lawmakers, Inching Toward A Privacy Bill, Question 'Data-Mining Reapers'
Optin g out of data collection could drive down value of online ads, panel said
Consumer Privacy: Who Cares? Companies Will Soon Find Out
Originally posted by nerbot
ATS has functioned fine in the past before it was invaded by those interested primarily in profit and not conspiracies.
Originally posted by Cedik
brilliant, all we have to do is send the petition in an email and it probably wont even pass the junk filters
To make sytemic change in a realist environment, one must exert power in the sphere that the entity -you are trying to change- exists. We sadly do not and so sending a petition will do no good at all.
What it will do is protect your ad revenue, and kid a few members that this is anything more than a money making enterprise.
Originally posted by VonDoomen
"They may take our lives, but they will never take... our FREEEEEDOM"
Obviously, count me in!
Originally posted by schrodingers dog
Any news when the new dedicated site will be up?