DuckDuckGo CEO asks Senate to address the 'digital-ad-market duopoly' - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 12, 2019 1:45 pm

DuckDuckGo CEO asks Senate to address the ‘digital-ad-market duopoly’

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gabriel Weinberg showcased his company as an example of profitability without the need to leverage user data.
DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg.

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg.

(Screenshot)

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of privacy-minded search engine DuckDuckGo, wants his message to be clear: It is possible to run a profitable ad-based digital business in 2019 without tracking and leveraging your users’ personal data.

It’s more assertion than opinion. His Paoli-based company has been profitable since 2014, and last year brought in  “substantially more than … $25 million” in revenue, according to his testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week on data privacy regulations and its impacts on competition and innovation.

“In many ways I come to you from the future: I run a business that is already GDPR- and CCPA- compliant,” said Weinberg. “Our privacy policy is straightforward and doesn’t require a law degree to decipher: We simply do not collect or share any personal information at all. That’s it — no confusing settings to fiddle with, no jargon-filled pages to read. Yet, even with this simple privacy policy, we nonetheless are able to make money through advertising.”

Weinberg said that, in order to restore competition and innovation in the digital ad market — heavily dominated by Google and Facebook — the duopoly needed to be addressed.

“Fixing this digital-ad-market duopoly can take any number of forms,” said the CEO. “Here are three suggestions. First, consumers could be given a robust mechanism to opt-out of online tracking. Second, monopoly platforms could be prohibited from combining data across their different business lines. Third, acquisitions that strengthen existing data monopolies could be blocked.”

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The hearing, which also included testimony from Google and Intel representatives, comes at the heels of 2018 — the year that saw data privacy take center stage among consumers, and an increase in regulation on the subject of consumer data, both at local and international levels. DuckDuckGo has long been a proponent of online privacy, and has seen significant boosts in popularity as consumers grew more privacy-minded.

Read the full testimony here, or watch a recording of the hearing here.

Companies: DuckDuckGo
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