Archive for February, 2010

U.S., European Commission Clear Microsoft-Yahoo! Agreement

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Posted by Brad Smith
Microsoft Senior Vice President and General Counsel
and Michael Callahan
Yahoo! Executive Vice President and General Counsel

As was broadly reported this morning, both the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission have completed their reviews of the Microsoft-Yahoo! search agreement and cleared the transaction without restrictions.

We appreciate the thorough reviews conducted by the DOJ and the Commission and we welcome the thoughtful decisions reached by each agency.  We also commend the collaborative efforts the regulators undertook to understand the search advertising market. Likewise, we are grateful for the efforts of regulators in Australia, Brazil and Canada who previously cleared the agreement, as well as those regulators we continue to work with in Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

We believe this agreement promotes choice, value and innovation for consumers, advertisers and publishers. Today, one company dominates more than 75 percent of the search advertising market in the U.S. and more than 90 percent of the market in Europe. We’re hopeful that this agreement is a first step for a viable competitor to emerge.

As we said when we announced the deal last July, the agreement required regulatory clearance in the U.S. and Europe before it could close. Now that we’ve received those approvals, we will begin the work of implementing the agreement. And we will continue to work with regulators in other relevant jurisdictions to ensure they have the information they need to evaluate the deal before it takes effect in those specific markets.

Globe-trotting for Consumer Empowerment!

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

I’m zipping around the world to spread the word on consumer empowerment, privacy and child safety. Yesterday I participated in a panel at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Entitled “Consumer Empowerment via the Mobile Internet,” the panel was moderated by Ambassador David Gross and was the beginning of an entire day focused on enabling the mobile future. Other panelists included Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI – of which Yahoo! is a board member), Lynne Dorward the Group Chief Regulatory Officer at Zain, Matthias Kurth of BNetzA Germany, and H.E Mr. S Poghisio who is the Minister for Information and Communications for Kenya.

I was truly inspired by the work that my fellow panelists are doing to enable consumers across the world to access and use the Internet as never before. That is where consumer empowerment begins. We talked about new fiber optic cables that are providing Kenyans with high-speed Internet access for the first time, mobile banking that gives farmers and small businessmen in developing countries access to new commerce tools even if they don’t have a bank account, digital citizenship and safety in a world of distributed devices in the hands of young people, and the idea of self-regulatory models of governance in privacy that enable global standards that move at the speed of the Internet.

Since the Internet is truly global, I was asked about the challenges of applying a patchwork of global and even state standards to services that we provide to Yahoo!’s 500 million users around the world. I indicated that it is, indeed, hard to do and short of a miraculous global regulatory order appearing one day (think Star Trek), this will continue to be a challenge for global companies. This is why we prefer a self-regulatory model whenever possible. It’s nimble, responsive, and allows us to create a consistent, portable, and global standard. I strongly believe there is evidence to support that self-regulation can work. One of our own examples is Yahoo!’s data retention policy move from holding identifiable log file data for 13 months down to 90 days for most log file data. Such a dramatic change to minimize how long we hold identifiable data is evidence of how self-regulation helps drive innovation at a rapid pace. If a law had been passed to set a 13 month standard, it’s not at all certain that companies would be motivated to move more aggressively. This is not just self-regulation, but positive competition within the industry. In the end, consumers win.

As the title of the panel says, it is all about consumer empowerment. Giving consumers access to information, means of communication, education on how to use these powerful tools, and portable controls that help them manage safety and privacy are all part of our mission at Yahoo!.

Anne Toth
VP Global Policy and Head of Privacy

Yahoo!’s Support for Safer Internet Day

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

February 9th marks Safer Internet Day, and this year the focus is on digital reputation management – that is, how people are viewed based on what they post and share online. Yahoo! is also putting particular focus in this area and educating our teens, parents and educators about how to protect and manage youth’s online personas.

To help draw attention to Safer Internet Day and empower people to create a safer Internet experience, we are sharing our top 5 tips to protecting youths’ digital reputation, via Yahoo!’s corporate blog and social media channels worldwide.

We are also collaborating with iKeepSafe to develop and deliver Project PRO (Privacy & Reputation Online) resources to educators and parents to coach youth on protecting and managing their digital reputation. The Project PRO curriculum outlines practical advice to motivate parents and teachers to communicate with youth about the potential impact of their online persona and utilize the latest technology to observe and monitor their child and student’s online activities. Tips include:

  • Know what your child/student is posting.
  • Get a page.
  • Participate in social networking.
  • Flag negative images & comments.
  • Help build a positive reputation.

Last December, we hosted the third annual CyberCitizenship Summit with more than 200 educational leaders to guide them through the ProjectPRO resources, so they could in turn implement the curriculum in their schools.

We are very encouraged that this year’s Safer Internet Day is highlighting this important issue, and encouraging people to understand what they can do to stay protected.

Catherine Teitelbaum, Yahoo!’s Director of Child Safety and Product Policy

You Think What Would Be Creepy?!

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

On January 28, I was honored to be a part of the FTC’s second panel in a series of three that focuses on consumer online privacy. Hosted by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, this second of three public events was designed to explore the privacy challenges that are posed by technology and business practices that collect and use consumer data. Mine was the first panel that discussed the landscape and tee’d up additional panels that looked at privacy as it relates to social networking, cloud computing, mobile computing and legislation around ever-evolving technologies.

To listen to hear my comments which were quite colorful and got the room roaring, view the FTC’s webcast. The third FTC roundtable is scheduled for March 17 in Washington, DC.

Additionally, I was part of this year’s State of the Net conference held on January 27 in Washington, DC. My panel, “Debating the Framework for Online Privacy” also included Chuck Curran of Network Advertising Initiative, The Honorable Philip Dunne a Member of UK Parliament, Marc Groman of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, and Ari Schwartz the VP and COO of Center for Democracy and Technology. The panel focused on aspects of Fair Information Practices that may be the basis for federal privacy legislation. The evening prior to the main event allowed for networking and education on Yahoo!’s privacy efforts (focusing on Ad Interest Manager and our upcoming CLEAR Ad Notice) to members and staffers on the Hill.

It continues to be a real pleasure for me to participate in these panels and provide insight into how companies like Yahoo! can provide a more compelling online experience while placing a premium on user privacy. By bringing content and advertising to you that is relevant and tailored to your interests, our customized “smart” services save you time and cut through the clutter. At the same time, Yahoo! is proud to be an industry leader with our commitment to data privacy, leading the way in establishing a relationship of trust with our users and implementing responsible self-regulation.

Anne Toth
VP Global Policy & Head of Privacy