Karolina is a lawyer at Panoptykon Foundation, a Warsaw-based NGO fighting for human rights in the age of surveillance and member of the European Digital Rights Initiative. In 2019/20 she is also a Mozilla EU Tech Policy Fellow investigating the online advertising ecosystem and working on requirements for advertising which respects privacy and human rights. She believes it’s crucial to fight power and knowledge imbalances between people and tech platforms.
Online advertising is often presented as a win-win situation that allows everyone, rich or poor, to access news and for publishers to fund creating content. But the reality is way different. In its current state online advertising is dominated by countless middlemen who operate in the dark and share data beyond anyone’s control. Websites which engage in ad selling via a process known as real-time bidding have no control over its further use by a potentially unlimited number of other actors. Users have no access to their data and no means to stop data sharing. However, these failure are not incidental. They result from the very design of the adtech ecosystem which is based on non-transparent “broadcasting” of people’s personal information. Can it be fixed or is it broken beyond repair?