Legislating User Data; New Game App Ad Formats

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Silicon Valley Vs. Washington DC

The White House said it will no longer seek legislation or action forcing companies (i.e., Apple, Google and Microsoft) to open their encrypted user data to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The New York Times covered the reversal, which comes immediately after the EU high court nullified the Safe Harbor framework that US tech companies used to traffic data – on the grounds that the US government has illegal backdoor access to personal info. The White House’s 180 came down to technologists arguing that, if backdoor access exists for the US government, then it must exist for sophisticated external players as well. More.

Level Up

According to Ad Age, Zynga is offering a new in-game advertising product: sponsored levels. An early example is of Clorox promoting its Hidden Valley Ranch dressings through a FarmVille challenge in which users grew ingredients. The sponsored levels appear to be more like short mini-games within an app (instead of 30-second videos). Zynga VP Julie Shumaker said it’s good to have a variety of in-app advertising opportunities, as there’s immense pressure to make the games themselves free. Read it.

Who Needs Scale?

Digiday takes a look at The Boston Globe, following in the footsteps of media companies like Vox, Gawker and The Atlantic, which are “built around a constellation of highly focused sites.” Ricardo Bilton says the Globe will be launching Stat, a standalone site dedicated to medicine and life sciences, following the successful launch of Crux, which covers Catholic news. This move underscores a shift as publishers increasingly cater to engaged, niche audiences instead of competing simply on scale. Read on.

No In-App Ad Blocking

Although Apple allowed apps that kill ads in mobile Safari, it seems to have drawn the line with in-app ad blocking. Business Insider reports Apple is doing this because in-app ad blockers install root certificates, allowing them to see everything a user does online. So it’s a bit of a privacy issue. One of the affected apps, Been Choice, said it’s reworking its product to comply with Apple’s guidelines: “We will remove this capability to block ads in Facebook, Yahoo, Yahoo Finance, Google and Pinterest [Friday] and resubmit tomorrow morning for expedited approval. The ad- and tracker-blocking in other apps will not be impacted.” Read more.

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