How much will privacy regulation disrupt the local search market in 2018?

Most marketing professionals don’t give much thought to the regulatory climate. In the US, unlike Europe, privacy laws are largely industry-specific and targeted toward healthcare and financial services. Thus, marketers have largely been able to rely on lawyers to provide privacy disclosures and then go on to business as usual.
Yet there are a number of indications that a tipping point may be near, giving way to new regulations that demand significant changes in business practice. These changes can have a disproportionate impact on small and medium-sized local businesses. And varying standards across state lines means that companies with local operations in different states may have to make multiple adjustments.
Below, I take a look at the current environment and indicators that major changes are due in 2018. Then I cover seven ways changing privacy laws will impact the local search market.
Deregulation on federal level driving changes on state level
With all the news on Net Neutrality last month, you

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Privacy group files flawed complaint against Google Store Sales Measurement

At a time when companies have growing access to consumer data from an increasing number of sources, privacy is more important than ever. But it’s also important for privacy advocates to understand what’s going on before they formally complain to regulatory bodies.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a complaint with the FTC over Google’s Store Sales Measurement program. The group is arguing that:
Google has collected billions of credit card transactions, containing personal customer information, from credit card companies, data brokers, and others and has linked those records with the activities of Internet users, including product searches and location searches. This data reveals sensitive information about consumer purchases, health, and private lives.
It asserts that Google is using a “secret, proprietary algorithm for assurances of consumer privacy” and that the company uses “an opaque and misleading ‘opt-out’ mechanism.” It further argues that these are “unfair and deceptive trade practices” and confer FTC jurisdiction. It’s asking for an

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Google receives search warrant for identities of everyone who searched crime victim’s name

According to Ars Technica, police in suburban Minnesota have obtained a court order requiring Google to divulge the identities of people who searched for the name or images of the local victim of financial fraud. It’s clear that the warrant is overly broad and would potentially open the door for similar “lazy” requests by police across the country.
Search warrants and related law are governed by the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. Typically, a law enforcement official must show “probable cause” to a judge to justify the warrant. Warrants may be issued against third parties that are not the subject of criminal investigation but may have information relevant to the investigation.
The warrant in this case seeks the identity and associated information of all users who searched for the victim’s name, including home addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, email addresses, payment information (e.g., credit cards) and IP and MAC addresses. Obviously, the privacy implications

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Bing to censor Bing.com in the EU for Right To Be Forgotten searches

Bing announced today it has updated its policy around Right To Be Forgotten requests in the EU.
According to the announcement, Right To Be Forgotten material in the EU will be censored even on Bing.com, a change from its past policy around RTBF requests.
Previously, Bing removed material from its country-specific versions such as Bing.fr for France, or Bing.co.uk for the United Kingdom. However, people in those countries who went to Bing.com would still find Right to be Forgotten material.
With the policy updates, that is no longer the case.
Going forward, in addition to this practice, Bing will also use location-based signals (e.g., IP addresses) to delist the relevant URL on all versions of Bing, including Bing.com, for any user accessing Bing from the European country where the request originated. For example, if someone in France successfully requests delisting of a URL on Bing, in addition to delisting that URL from all applicable European versions of Bing, Bing will

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Google reports more than 40K government requests for user data during 2nd half of 2015

Google has released its latest transparency report update, reporting 40,677 requests for user data from governments around the world.
According to the latest numbers, there were over 5,000 more requests during the second half of 2015 compared to January through June of 2015, with 81,311 total users/accounts specified.
Requests for user data by reporting period

Of the more than 100 countries listed on the transparency report, the United States had the most government requests for user data and account information at 12,523, followed by Germany with 7,491 requests and France with 4,174 requests.
Google gave itself a pat on the back on its latest Google Public Policy blog post, noting it had led the charge for global transparency around government surveillance laws.
We helped create the Reform Government Surveillance coalition to encourage Congress and the executive branch to take steps to modernize US surveillance laws, further protect the privacy and data security rights of all users, including those outside the US and

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Report: 2 years in, 75 percent of Right to Be Forgotten asks denied by Google

It has been two years since the Court of Justice of the European Union established the “Right to be forgotten” (RTBF). Reputation VIP subsequently launched Forget.me as one way for consumers in Europe to submit RTBF requests to Bing and Google.
The company has periodically used consumer submissions through the site (130,000 URLs) to compile and publish aggregate data on RTBF trends. A new report looks at two years’ worth of cumulative data, on the nature, geographic location and success rates of RTBF requests.
The top three countries from which RTBF requests originate are the Germany, the UK and France. In fact more than half of all requests have come from Germany and the UK.

Google refuses roughly 70 percent to 75 percent of requests according to the data. The chart below reflects the most common categories or justifications for URL removal requests, on the left. On the right are the reasons that Google typically denies RTBF requests.
Google most frequently

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Google Updates User Ads Settings When Signed In Or Out

Google has updated the format of ads settings pages where users can exercise some control over how their data is used for ad targeting from Google ad systems. This is the place to go to find out what age and gender Google thinks you are and what kinds of things you’re interested in for ad targeting purposes. The last significant overhaul of the Ads Settings pages occurred in 2013. Google now shows separate pages depending on whether you’re signed in or out.
In effect, there are three places you’ll have to sign out, if desired: the signed-in page, the signed-out page, and finally, the display network page, because different information is used for ad targeting “depending on how you’re interacting with Google and whether you’re signed in with your Google account,” Google explains on the support page.
If you’re not signed into a Google account, these are the two options you’ll see:
Options for signed-out users.
The first choice is to opt in

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Google Fights France To Prevent Globalization Of The Right-to-Be-Forgotten

Google has formally appealed France’s data protection authority’s order that Google apply Right-to-Be-Forgotten (RTBF) removals to its global index. The Commission Nationale de l’informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) had protested Google’s Europe-only removal policy and threatened to fine the company €150,000 ($169,000) for failing to apply the rule on a worldwide basis.
Previously Google said that it would limit RTBF to European users:
We’ve been working hard to strike the right balance in implementing the European Court’s ruling, co-operating closely with data protection authorities. The ruling focused on services directed to European users, and that’s the approach we are taking in complying with it.
The company simultaneously made it more difficult for Europeans to get to Google.com.
French and other European privacy regulators have taken the position that RTBF is undermined by the retention of content in the Google.com index. And the CNIL issued an order and ultimatum to Google accordingly.
Google is now appealing that order in French court. On different

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Google Will Allow People To Block “Revenge Porn” From Search Results

Google has announced that in the coming weeks, it will launch a system allowing people to request nude and explicit images of themselves posted without consent from appearing in Google’s search results.
This move will help with the “revenge porn” issue, where upset partners post images to degrade someone they were with. It’s an issue that’s especially likely to be done to women.
Google wrote of the new policy today in a blog post:
We’ve heard many troubling stories of “revenge porn”: an ex-partner seeking to publicly humiliate a person by posting private images of them, or hackers stealing and distributing images from victims’ accounts. Some images even end up on “sextortion” sites that force people to pay to have their images removed.
Our philosophy has always been that Search should reflect the whole web. But revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims—predominantly women. So going forward, we’ll honor requests from people to remove

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EU Says Process For Reviewing Right To Be Forgotten Appeals Is Working

The EU organization charged with overseeing Europe’s Right To Be Forgotten appeals process – Article 29 Working Party (WP29) – says its review system for RTBF complaints is working just fine, and that the majority of RTBF requests denied by search engines are justified.
After creating a set of guidelines for reviewing RTBF appeals last December, WP29 – a group made up of data protection authorities from the EU’s member states – recently surveyed national regulators and has determined its process for reviewing appeals is operating efficiently.
“It follows from the answers received to the questionnaire that the system put in place by the WP29 has efficiently played its role.”
In a statement released by the WP29 covering its survey results, the group claimed, “It follows from the answers received to the questionnaire that the system put in place by the WP29 has efficiently played its role.”
It also said of the nearly 2,000 complaints it has received, the great majority

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