DoJ and FCC Regulators Must Scrutinize Verizon/Yahoo deal

By: Jeff Chester | Jul 25 2016
Need 21st Century Safeguards for Big-Data-driven digital media mergers

Statement of Jeff Chester, CDD executive director:   Regulators, including the DOJ and FCC, must prevent Verizon from taking anticompetitive and unfair advantage of its broadband ISP bird’s nest view of what their subscribers and consumers do—online and off.  The  proposed takeover of Yahoo’s core digital data advertising business, when combined with the capability to gather information from its wireless devices, broadband networks, and set-top boxes, gives it control over the key screens that Americans use today.  Verizon has already supercharged its use of “Big Data” tactics to monitor their customers and online users, including through its recent shopping spree that includes AOL and Millennial Media (and also enables it to manage part of Microsoft Advertising’s consumer data targeting operations).  Verizon’s ability to track a single person across their devices, when they are in a store, at home, work or school, and connect the digital dots to know whether they are now on their mobile phone or home watching TV, is a threat to the privacy of Americans.

Regulators should closely scrutinize the Yahoo dea to prevent anticompetitive practices related to Verizon’s ability to leverage its mobile and geo-location consumer data.  The FCC should also impose strict safeguards that prevent Verizon from combining Yahoo data with what it already knows about its customers and consumers.  The FCC should also quickly enact its proposed consumer privacy rules for broadband ISPs.  As broadband network monopolies such as Verizon merge online ad giants, new threats to consumer privacy emerge.  That’s why action of FCC Chairman Wheeler’s privacy proposal is required.  The Obama Administration and the FCC must ensure that deals like Verizon/Yahoo don’t further erode the little privacy Americans enjoy today when they use digital media.


For background on Verizon’s use of data, see the section in our recent report:

also, to see Verizon’s recent growing capabilities to use our geo-location and app data, note from Millennial Media 10 k 2015 (that company now owned by Verizon)  My bold:

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