Recently, the Norwegian Consumer Council publishe a report calling for a ban on surveillance-base advertising. In solidarity, Tutanota, along with the undersigne Privacy First, sent the following letter to EU and US regulators on July 7, 2021, encouraging them to take action in legislative sessions and any relevant privacy discussions.

It’s time to ban surveillance-base advertising

Surveillance-base advertising permeates today’s internet, raising some very thorny issues for consumers and businesses alike.

On June 23, a broad coalition of consumer advocacy organizations, civil rights groups, nongovernmental organizations, as well as academics, researchers, privacy experts and enthusiasts — everyone involved — called on regulators to end invasive and privacy-unfriendly practices relate to surveillance advertising.

In the European Union, they are urging regulators to consider a ban on surveillance-base advertising as part of the Digital Services Act. In the Lead Generation Telemarketing Unite States, they are urging lawmakers to enact comprehensive privacy legislation. We are a group of businesses writing to you today to express our support for this initiative. We represent small, meium, and large businesses who all believe — and prove every day — that it is possible to run a profitable company without exploiting the privacy of individuals.

Aside from the obvious privacy issues that surveillance-base advertising poses, it also causes damage to the business landscape.

In surveillance-base advertising models, a small number of actors can gain competitive advantage by collecting data across websites and services, and dominant platform actors can abuse their position by prioritizing their own services.

These practices severely undermine competition and take away revenue from content creators. Anti-competitive behavior and influence help entrench the positions of dominant players, while complex supply chains and ineffective technologies lead to revenue losses for advertisers and publishers.

It is also difficult for consumers to distinguish between “good” and “bad” actors in the digital sphere, meaning that legitimate actors, which include many small and meium-size businesses, are directly affecte by the actions of unscrupulous companies.

This hurts consumers and businesses and threatens to undermine the foundations of democracy.

While we recognize that advertising is an important source of revenue for online content creators and publishers, this does not justify the creation of large-scale commercial surveillance systems that attempt to “show the right ads to the right people.”

Other forms of advertising technology exist that do not rely on surveillance of consumers, and alternative models can be implemente without significantly affecting revenue. Conversely – and we can show – businesses can thrive without privacy violations.

We encourage you to take a stand and ban surveillance-base advertising.

Best regards.

Vivaldi Technologies, Jon von Tetzchner, CEO & Tatsuki Tomita, COO

Fastmail Pty Ltd, Bron Gondwana, CEO

Conva Ventures Inc., dba. Fathom Sad Life Box Analytics, Jack Ellis & Paul Jarvis, Directors

Proton Technologies AG, Dr. Andy Yen, CEO

Matthias Pfau, Co-founder and CEO, Tutao GmbH, dba.Tutanota

DuckDuckGo, Inc., Gabriel Weinberg, Founder and CEO

Casey Oppenheim, Co-founder and CEO, Disconnect

Mojeek Ltd, Colin Hayhurst, Chief Executive Officer

Ecosia GmbH, Christian Kroll, CEO

Robert EG Beens, Co-founder and CEO, Startpage & StartMail

Nextcloud GmbH, Frank Karlitschek, Founder and CEO

Kobler, Erik Bugge, CEO

Strossle International, Håkon Tillier, CEO & Rickard Lawson, CMO

Mailfence, Patrick De Schutter, Co-founder and Managing Director

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