The Big Story
The state of California is making another stride in modern data privacy legislation to grant residents even more protection against data brokers. Data brokers collect and transfer personal user data, like location and spending information, often unbeknownst to the user. California, a leader of digital privacy laws in the US, has taken another step by introducing the “Delete Act.” This comes as an addition to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and California Privacy Right Act (CPRA), which both went into effect within the last five years. Senator Josh Becker originally introduced the “Delete Act” this past April with the goal of allowing users to delete their information from every data broker in the state through a single verifiable consumer request. Currently, California residents are allowed to ask data brokers to delete their personal data, however this must be done individually for every single data broker.
Although this still needs to undergo further legislative review, if passed it would amend the CPRA and create a way for consumers to easily delete all their personal data. By January 2026, the California Privacy Protection Agency would create a website for both consumers and data brokers to access for data deletion. Data brokers would be required to process and fulfill delete requests at least once a month. In addition, data brokers will undergo a third-party audit every three years starting in 2028 and also must disclose the types of data they collect. Those that refuse to either register with the state or fulfill deletion requests will be faced with a series of fines.
A variety of organizations, including Planned Parenthood, are in support of this act stating that it provides critical updates to protect consumers’ sensitive data. However, some advertising industry trade groups are rallying to kill the bill. According to opponents, the bill could harm companies that rely on third-party data and could then also give companies like Meta and Apple even more power, reinforcing the already existing walled gardens for advertisers. For advertisers in California, this could potentially strong-arm them into media buys on these big platforms, forcing them to comply with competitive pricing and placements only to receive less transparent measurement in return. This seems to be the ongoing battle for advertisers and tech companies as data privacy regulations continue to only grow worldwide.
In a recent conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that touched on antisemitism on X, Elon Musk suggested implementing a small, monthly payment plan to access the platform. Musk has long made it known that the solution to counter platform bots is to enforce a pay-to-access system. Although the details are still unclear, Musk stated “This is a longer discussion, but in my view, this is actually the only defense against vast armies of bots.” Musk has already released X Premium, which aims to incentivize users to pay for enhanced services like longer posts and increased visibility. Implementing some sort of paywall could turn many users away from the platform, and in turn drive down advertising spend on the platform, which would be a big hit to the company’s revenue.
Back in May, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed off on a law that would ban the use of TikTok statewide. Expectedly, TikTok fought back by filing a lawsuit against the state claiming that the law violates the First Amendment, intrudes upon federal authority, and unlawfully singles out the company. This month, Virginia and 17 other GOP-led states filed a brief in support of Montana’s positioning against the social media giant. The brief calls Montana’s law “the latest in a storied tradition of consumer protection laws” and reiterated TikTok’s alleged deceptive business practices along with the threat of personal data being accessed by the Chinese Communist Party.
As we have been seeing, tech companies are starting to have to redesign their products to comply with data privacy rules and other government policies, especially in Europe. Recently, there have been whispers about Meta launching paid versions of Facebook and Instagram free-of-advertising for users in the European Union to work within the rules of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Although there are no details about costs or launch dates, it has been reported that Meta would also continue to offer free versions with ads for those not interested. As the EU continues to crack down on digital and privacy laws, tech giants, like Meta, are quickly going to have to find ways to tailor their products while remaining profitable.
After a long testing period, TikTok has officially rolled out its Shop marketplace and services to the US this month. Baked directly into the app, TikTok’s Shop will feature a range of items for sale from both third-party sellers and verified retailers, allowing an immersive and seamless shopping experience for consumers. With 150 million US users on the app, TikTok is hoping this new feature can help to generate revenue as online shopping continues to grow, especially on social media apps like Instagram. Both brands and creators are expected to benefit from this as well. Brands will be allowed extra exposure on the app with dedicated pages to host their products for sale, while creators working with brands will be given commission for products sold through TikTok’s affiliate program.
One would think that being investigated by the DOJ would probably make you want to keep your hands clean for a while. Not Google though! In the first week of Google’s trial over anticompetitive practices, it has been revealed that Google was caught “tweaking” advertising auctions to meet revenue targets. In other words, Google was jacking up auction costs for search ads, by as much as 10% for some queries, to meet revenue goals and avoid a plumet in stock price. When asked about this during the trial, Google Ad Executive, Jerry Dischler, stated that his team had “to get creative so we could meet our quota” and that this was their way of “shaking the cushions” to meet goals. This revelation coupled with the open admission of guilt has the industry questioning the trustworthiness of Google… yet again.
UK’s Online Safety Bill was passed by the House of Parliament and is ready to become law. This bill, which aims to make the UK “the safest place in the world to be online, particularly for children” has been in the making for about 5 years as UK policy makers grappled with how to resolve a host of online safety concerns. This bill will impose strict requirements on large social platforms to remove illegal content and will also require new age-checking measures to prevent underage children from being exposed to harmful and sensitive content. These new requirements will be enforced by the UK’s regulatory agency, Ofcom, and can could cost violators up to 10% of their company’s global annual revenue. Companies, like WhatsApp and Signal, are openly against this new bill as it will potentially require them to break their app’s end-to-end encryption promise to monitor users’ messages for child sexual abuse material. UK regulators seem willing to work with these companies to only require “technically feasible” measures.