PlaceIQ: U.S. Federal Privacy Regulations Will Happen in My Lifetime

We’re in Austin for Localogy’s Place Conference, covering some sessions and tidbits as available. Stay tuned for more session coverage today and retrospectively over the coming weeks. See all session coverage aggregated here

Now that GDPR has a year’s worth of footing and CCPA looms on the horizon, industry players are speculating on the next step: U.S. Federal data privacy regulations. And location data providers are ironically the ones pushing for it. Perhaps most vocal on that charge is PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall.

“We need Federal regulation so we can be within the law, because right now there is no law,” he said during a panel discussion at Localogy’s Place Conference in Austin. “CCPA is the first step, but it’s only one state. We need Federal-level regulation. It’s going to happen in my lifetime but not in the next 12-16 months”

The key here is that responsible data collection players have more to gain from a regulated environment, while the bad actors do not. As a side note, the level of integrity and responsibility in data collection can be inferred from a given company’s level of support or aversion to regulation. McCall passes the test.

The other thing that responsible location intelligence players have to gain is the barriers to entry/competition that a regulated environment will bring. That comes at a time when location data providers are coming out of the woodwork. But it’s important to add that this shakeout will meanwhile happen through market dynamics, regardless of oversight.

Specifically, location tracking restrictions in iOS (and more transparency to mobile users) will naturally weed out bad actors. Parallel to that will be continued growth in aggregate demand for location data as it expands from marketing to all kinds of operational support for enterprises. So in the end, it boils down to more demand with fewer providers.

“There will be fewer entrants because the bar will be raised in iOS 13 for getting movement data,” said McCall. So you’ll see the space begin to mature. We’ll have fewer companies, more consolidation and one or two exits.”

Meanwhile, until the slow wheels of federal legislation turn, McCall advocates a sort of Hippocratic Oath for the advertising industry, especially around location targeting. That will not only create an important bridge until federal regulation arrives, but it will help steer those very regulations… eventually.

“We have to self regulate while we wait for federal regulators,” asserted McCall. “We can publish simple tangible things, not lots of fine print, that give consumers confidence… Then, we can show [regulators] what we’ve created and say ‘look, we’ve done the hard work, Now turn it into law.”

Stay tuned for more session coverage today and retrospectively through video over the coming weeks. 

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