Shaping Youth Father’s Day Letter to President Obama

Bill CosbyJune 17, 2009 Bill Cosby has always been my favorite star, dating back to my childhood listening to his comedy routines on record albums.  (roar, says the digital dinosaur!)

It seems particularly fitting that President Obama has become a bit of a ‘Cosby-esque dad’ with his calm, approachable Cliff Huxtable demeanor and a media perception echoing that same warm, casual  “my family’s just like your family” parenting style.

It’s refreshing to have President Obama able to come at the media management equation from both sides, understanding the powerful allure and positive potential, while expressing heartfelt parental concerns:

“I worry that even if Michelle and I do our best to impart what we think are important values to our children, the media out there will undermine our lessons and teach them something different.” –President Obama

So this Father’s Day, I’m going to send our President an “open letter” and ask that you do the same, whatever your views may be…because our communication culture is at a crossroads and there’s about to be a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.

Here’s my informal little note, please feel free to join with others, share your own thoughts, or simply sign on the dotted line(full campaign going on here via CCFC)

rhs-grad77Aloha, Mr. President,

As a fellow kamaaina of the same vintage in Hawaii (Oahu’s Radford High, go Rams!) and one who came within a smidge of naming my own daughter Malia, I reach out to you with multiple touchpoints of commonality.

You of all people KNOW we can use the power of media for positive change and deploy marketing tools in meaningful ways to engage, inspire, mobilize, and interact with forward-thinking futurists and the ‘net generation.’

With a sense of unity in a plethora of youth arenas, from eco-messaging to global interdependence, I think you’d agree “yes we can” shift away from the mindless onslaughts of consumption and vapid values that are undermining good parenting and instead uplift the conversations and behavioral influence that promote a healthier worldviews for kids.

You’ve made it clear that cybersecurity is a national priority but let’s also look at the commercialization of our privacy and undo the impact of ‘80s deregulation reverb of an ‘anything goes’ gloves-off pummeling of marketing to kids.

Since you’re far from a Luddite in the social media sphere, and understand the positive energy and action of productive pursuits, I’d love to see you turn attention to tomorrow’s behavioral privacy hearing on advertising industry practices and consumer expectations.

Listen carefully to the ‘underground currency’ of private data being shared among industry pros, which consumers have overwhelmingly stated they prefer to control themselves…and then also take a long hard look at the FCC and FTC policy in dire need of an overhaul.

They’re not the same ingredients, but it’s the same broth and the same stew.

You’re in the unique position as a ‘first father’  in many ways, and your actions have a global resonance far beyond raising your two girls into womanhood. You seem to genuinely share parental concerns of an “overall coarsening of our culture” that is bodysnatching kids right out of their childhood with ‘age compression’ marketing tactics (early sexualization, the KGOY ‘kids getting older younger’).

Yet I bet you’ll also agree “yes we can” keep the fun of mass media without bombarding kids with sexist, violent misogyny messaging, or junk food for the mind and body via materialism that makes kids feel it’s about “what you have and what you look like” over “who you are and how you think.”

From the privacy issue to the regulatory ‘sell’ in surround sound, communications and commerce issues are entwined in a monumental mashup which won’t be an easy fix, nor served well by a sweeping universal ‘clamp down’ in policy…(you know my theory on squishing out sideways)

coppaAfter all, it’s quite a ‘broken’ system when those of us in the kids sphere that are trying to do GOOD things (academics, health care pros, serious games’ assessment of outcomes surveys, etc.) get ensnared in the web of well-meaning COPPA compliance issues intended to protect kids in the 21st century. It’s making it increasingly difficult for those of us with limited resources to navigate these waters with excruciating diligence. It’s a huge ‘disconnect’ that needs rewiring. For example:

Those of us trying to ‘play by the rules’ of nonprofit research are jumping through hoops right and left to protect kids’ privacy while getting bogged down in regulatory legal beagle business to make sure we’re ‘in compliance’ while big bucks marketers seem to skate through unscathed with an attitude of ‘so sue me’ or worse yet, ‘catch me if you can’…

Is anybody listening? Industry? Government? Powers that be?

consumers-union2We as consumers (and that includes KIDS) should be able to assert ownership of and control over our own privacy, not have it stealthily snatched for free, then profited from without obligation, compensation, or ethics in any regard…

And yet…that’s exactly what’s happening.

This past fall, Consumers Union shared poll results revealing “93% of Americans think internet companies should always ask for permission before using personal information and 72% want the right to opt out when companies track their online behavior!”

So, HOW can industry perpetuate “unauthorized tracking” on the sly, when consumers have vehemently come out against same?

That’s rhetorical, because one look at their poll shows the answer is simple…‘we the people’ are unaware.

In fact, we’re more than unaware, we’re clueless, with false delusions of fairness, thinking we actually DO have control of our own private, personal data. HA!

house logo

Looks like your hearing tomorrow should be a doozy. I wish I could be a fly on the wall. ‘

People would have a hissy if they had full disclosure of the level of e-havioral data mining, and it’s about to all start tumbling and crumbling into a heap of trouble. Especially given the 9-25-08 consumers perceptions reported:

  • 61% are confident that what they do online is private and not shared without their permission;
  • 57% incorrectly believe that companies must identify themselves and indicate why they are collecting data and whether they intend to share it with other organizations;
  • 48% incorrectly believe their consent is required for companies to use the personal information they collect from online activities…”

We the people’ are about to become much more mindful of the inner workings of the FCC, FTC,  cyberprivacy and e-havioral inner workings of the ‘totally wired’ arena.

On this Father’s Day, as you snuggle up with Sasha and Malia, remember who you’re working for in ‘balancing safety and fun.’


As a Dad that speaks with clarity, passion and conviction to the masses, I’ll  put in a plea for you to ‘keep it simple’ and UNDERSTANDABLE when making changes to the system, for those of us who aren’t lawyers, policy wonks and bureaucrats.

We don’t want to cob up the media/marketing management mess further with so much FCC & FTC obfuscation that only those with big bucks legal and marketing teams can ‘play’ in this arena!!!

That will limit access for smaller firms doing amazingly positive things with media and marketing’s appeal to children…and puts nonprofits like ourselves in even more of a David vs. Goliath conundrum.

The last thing we need is to give MORE unfair advantage to the multinational firms with profiteering agendas, when there is vast potential in leveling the playing field toward  ‘net neutrality’ and open source collaboration.

take actionSo there you have it, Mr. President…

I will say ‘mahalo’ in advance for looking into the FCC, FTC, and e-havioral privacy practices pertaining to kids.

I’ll also ask pointblank that you USE your media and marketing clout to benefit kids by balancing safety and fun with a “reasoned” (and reasonable!) approach without behavioral advertising vultures lurking at the ready to feed on kids’ insecurities for profit or mine their preferences for a buck.

I hope you’ll lend an ear to this important dialog and hear with the heart of a parent, the soul of the global good, and the media savvy mass influencer that you are. Most of all, I hope you’ll take action.

Me ke aloha,


Amy Jussel

Malama pono (take care) and Happy Father’s Day!

I take heart in the fact that Obama sees from the lens of a parent amidst this communications crossroads…


As Bill Cosby says,

“You know the only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children? Those who’ve never had any.”

Well, Obama has.

And he obviously has the family man ‘ohana’ that extends far beyond just his own kids…and an ability to appear as the everyman. (Is Obama the next Heathcliff Huxtable?)

With that in mind, here’s a Father’s Day present for all the Cosby Show fans out there, the 25 year reunion clip of the cast shown last month on the Today Show, and another one from VideoGum on the talk show thereafter headlined a ‘touching but awkward‘ reunion. Get the Dr. some food!

Submitted by Benton Foundation
Jun 18 2009 10:00am – 2:00pm

Behavioral Advertising: Industry Practices and Consumers’ Expectations

House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet
House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection
10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 18

2123 Rayburn House Office Building

The Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hold a joint hearing titled, “Behavioral Advertising: Industry Practices and Consumers’ Expectations” on Thursday, June 18, 2009, in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing will examine the potential privacy implications of behavioral advertising.


• Jeffrey Chester, Executive Director, Center for Digital Democracy
• Scott Cleland, President, Precursor LLC
• Charles D. Curran, Executive Director, Network Advertising Initiative
• Christopher M. Kelly, Chief Privacy Officer, Facebook
• Edward W. Felten, Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, Princeton University
• Anne Toth, Vice President of Policy, Head of Privacy, Yahoo! Inc.
• Nicole Wong, Deputy General Counsel, Google Inc.


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