Craig Newmark, founder of the popular classified network Craigslist, is donating $6 million to Consumer Reports (CR), the independent and nonprofit advocacy organization based in Yonkers, NY. The organization is best known for its monthly magazine filled with product ratings and recommendations.
With the funding, Consumer Reports will create a new Digital Lab that will focus on consumers’ rights in the digital era. The philanthropic investment comes from Craig Newmark Philanthropies and is the single largest gift in Consumer Reports’ history.
For more than 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests.
CR’s new Digital Lab will shine a light on the data privacy and security issues that consumers increasingly face, as well as examine the broader topics of fair market competition, transparency, and consumer choice in today’s digital marketplace. By scaling its expertise in product testing and research, investigative journalism, and advocacy for the digital era, Consumer Reports will expand its efforts to protect, educate, and empower consumers in our increasingly connected world.
“We deal with a complex set of challenges in today’s digital era, and this investment will expand Consumer Reports’ scope to address critical issues that impact consumers,” said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies and former board member of Consumer Reports. “Consumer Reports has a strong track record – from ensuring the security of seatbelts in cars to keeping toxins out of food – and this new initiative will increase transparency in the digital marketplace, bolstering consumers’ ability to have more control, more options, and stronger voices.”
The primary focus of the Digital Lab will be to research, rate and report on companies’ products and practices that impact data privacy, security, transparency, and fair competition. The Lab will eventually investigate data collection across every category of products and services that CR tests, rates, and reviews. This will represent a significant step forward for CR’s efforts to protect and advance consumers’ digital rights.
The Lab will also serve as the foundation for CR’s work to hold the tech industry to higher standards and advocate for marketplace protections, including tougher privacy laws and antitrust enforcement. Despite the recent wave of data privacy problems and security breaches, regulators and policymakers have failed to put meaningful standards in place. The Digital Lab will help fuel CR’s efforts to improve connected products and advocate for the government to be a stronger watchdog on behalf of consumers.
“Today’s digital giants have unprecedented influence over the choices we make, the information we receive, and the ways we experience the world, and that influence is often hidden from us,” said Marta Tellado, CEO and President of Consumer Reports. “The rapid growth of these companies is sapping us of our ability to control our own lives and make informed decisions, and our government has been unable or unwilling to keep them in check by setting appropriate and necessary standards.”