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Long biography

Dr Johnny Ryan FRHistS is Chief Policy & Industry Relations Officer at Brave, the private web browser.

Dr Ryan has led’s Brave’s campaign for GDPR enforcement, and liaises with government and industry colleagues globally. His regulatory interventions have made the front page of The Financial Times, and his expert commentary regularly appears in media such as The New York TimesThe Economist, WiredLe Monde, and others. Protocol published a profile about some of his work.

Like many Brave employees, he suffers from a syndrome called “adtech remorse”. Before Brave, Dr. Ryan worked in adtech, media, and policy. His previous roles included Chief Innovation Officer of The Irish Times and Senior Researcher at the Institute of International & European Affairs (IIEA).

Dr Ryan is a regular speaker at high level industry fora, and has testified at the United States Senate and the European Commission.

As an O’Reilly Foundation PhD scholar at the University of Cambridge he studied the spread of militant memes. Dr Ryan is the author of two books (link: “A History of the Internet and the Digital Future”). His first book, based on his work at the IIEA, was the most cited source in the European Commission’s impact assessment that decided against pursuing Web censorship across the EU.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s expert network on media, entertainment and information.

He started his career in design, and returned to design thinking later as Executive Director of The Innovation Academy at University College Dublin. He was an associate on the emerging digital environment at the Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge.

Short biography

Dr Johnny Ryan FRHistS is Chief Policy & Industry Relations Officer at Brave, the private web browser. Dr Ryan initiated GDPR actions to reform the $40B RTB industry, prompting investigation of Google and the IAB (the tracking industry’s standards body) by European data protection authorities. Protocol published a profile about some of his work.

He has testified on these matters at the United States Senate and at the European Commission. He previously worked for a publisher and for an adtech company.

Like many Brave employees, he suffers from a syndrome called “adtech remorse”. He is cited in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, and many others. He has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Recent Press Citing Dr Johnny Ryan

Last updated in July 2019

  • After a data breach, British Airways faces a record fine, The New York Times, July 2019
  • Watchdogs bare their teeth at adtech industry, The Financial Times, July 2019
  • Sky Views: Online you’re being weighed and measured and your data spread around, Sky News, June 2019
  • UK data watchdog has ‘systematic’ concerns on real-time bids, Bloomberg Law, June 2019
  • Behavioural advertising is out of control, warns UK watchdog, TechCrunch, June 2019
  • Adtech industry operating illegally, rules UK regulator, The Financial Times, June 2019
  • Google faces privacy complaints in European countries, CNBC, June 2019
  • Brave urges UK’s data watchdog to join Ireland in probing claim Google adtech breaches GDPR, The Register, June 2019
  • UK privacy watchdog has its eye on RTB, AdExchanger, June 2019
  • One year later, EU privacy law faces tough questions, The Hill, May 2019
  • Données personnelles : enquête en Irlande sur les pratiques publicitaires de Google, Le Monde, May 2019
  • How LiveRamp Intends to Woo Advertisers Now That the Cookie Is Starting to Crumble, AdWeek, May 2019
  • It’s been one year since GDPR scared the crap out of Silicon Valley, what’s next? Gizmodo, May 2019
  • As CCPA’s Deadline Looms, Tech and Media Brace for Another GDPR, AdWeek, May 2019
  • Google targeted as GDPR hits one year, The Financial Times, May 2019
  • Google could face hefty fine over possible privacy violations, San Diego Union-Tribune, May 2019
  • Irish data regulator launches Google probe, The Hill, May 2019
  • Google steht vor seiner ersten GDPR-Untersuchung der irischen Datenschutzbehörden, Nach Welt, May 2019
  • Google ad exchange probed by Irish data regulator, The Financial Times, May 2019
  • Google faces Irish inquiry over possible breach of privacy laws, The Guardian, May 2019
  • Google could face hefty fine over possible privacy violations, La Times, May 2019
  • Google faces EU probe over ad privacy practices, CNet, May 2019
  • UK regulator says real-time bidding violates GDPR, Marketing Land, June 2019
  • Google faces new European investigation over potential GDPR violation, CPO Magazine, June 2019
  • How Google reaps the data dividend, Sunday Business Post, June 2019
  • Now Ireland is investigating Google over GDPR, Campaign, May 2019
  • Data Protection Commission launches investigation into Google Ireland, The Journal, May 2019
  • Google đối mặt với án phạt nặng do xâm phạm quyền riêng tư, Bao Dien tu VTV, May 2019
  • Google faces Irish privacy probe of data processing for ads, Ghana Guardian, May 2019
  • Google Hadapi Investigasi GDPR Pertama di Eropa, Skanaa, May 2019
  • RGPD: la pub en temps réel sur le web pourrait être illégale, Le Soir, May 2019
  • Irish data protection commission opens investigation into Google Ad Exchange, Silicon Republic, May 2019
  • Google’s ad system under EU probe for how it spreads your private data, Slashdot, May 2019
  • GDPR probe launched into Google’s ad business, Evening Telegraph, May 2019
  • Ireland’s Data Protection Commission begins probe against Google over GDPR infringement, Computing, May 2019
  • Is GDPR working? Brave’s Johnny Ryan says it’s starting to, and marketers must heed the risks, MarketingLand, May 2019
  • Google faces scrutiny in Ireland over GDPR, Mediapost, May 2019
  • Irish regulator opens first privacy probe into Google, US News & World Report, May 2019
  • Così Google violava la privacy per passare dati personali alle aziende, Agi, May 2019
  • Google In Trouble Following Ad Tech Complaints, B&T, May 2019
  • Two major GDPR complaints: A close-up, IAPP, May 2019
  • Sexual issues and political search terms dominate Google leak, Sunday Business Post, May 2019
  • Google’s lead EU regulator opens formal privacy probe of its adtech, TechCrunch, May 2019
  • Irish regulator opens first privacy probe into Google, Mail Online, May 2019
  • Irish GDPR investigation of Google could impact entire programmatic ecosystem, Martech Today, May 2019
  • GDPR: A ‘Y2K’ moment or a sea change for the digital ecosystem?, MarketingLand, May 2019
  • Ireland investigates Google over GDPR, Compliance Week, May 2019
  • Google investigation, RTE DriveTime (radio), May 2019
  • Google ad exchange in data privacy probe, Naked Security, May 2019
  • Google probed over personalised ads, Irish Independent, May 2019
  • Has your phone secretly recorded your conversations? Mine has, The Irish Times, May 2019
  • Irish privacy watchdog opens investigation into Google, Politico, May 2019
  • Data Protection Commission opens first investigation into Google, The Irish Times, May 2019
  • Briefing: Ireland launches probe into Google ad data practices, The Information, May 2019
  • EU regulator launches probe into Google over data privacy, CNBC, May 2019
  • Brave’s top exec to speak at US Senate – massive credibility boost for BAT/Brave project, Invest in Blockchain, May 2019
  • Privacy issues roll on because tech giants have no competition, experts tell Congress, CNet, May 2019
  • ‘Privacy horse is sort of our of the barn’: Congress circles close to federal privacy law’, Digiday, May 2019
  • Irish data cops are shoving a probe right into Google’s ads, The Register, May 2019
  • Irish regulators begin investigating Google for GDPR infringement, Ad Exchanger, May 2019
  • Google faces European privacy investigation via Ireland, Seeking Alpha, May 2019
  • Google is once again in the. EU’s investigative sights over data privacy, The Street, May 2019
  • Google is facing its first GDPR probe from Irish privacy regulators, The Verge, May 2019
  • Google faces Irish privacy probe of data processing for ads, Bloomberg, May 2019
  • Data protection watchdog to probe Google’s ad exchange, RTE, May 2019
  • Information-harvesting software widespread on Government websites, The Irish Times, March 2019
  • Irish privacy watchdog opens official probe into Google’s advertising practices, Irish Independent, May 2019
  • Europe’s GDPR offers privacy groups new ways to challenge adtech, The Economist, March 2019
  • Google and Facebook get data from NHS websites telling them when users search advice on HIV and abortion, Daily Mail, March 2019
  • “I have HIV, now what?” Tracking cookies found on NHS advice pages, The New Statesman, March 2019
  • Data from HSE website users ‘leaked to commercial actors’, The Irish Times, March 2019
  • EU citizens ‘are being tracked’ on government and public sector websites, Euro News, March 2019
  • Privacy complaints received by tech giants’ favorite EU watchdog up more than 2x since GDPR, TechCrunch, February 2019
  • Even the IAB warned adtech risks EU privacy rules, TechCrunch, February 2019
  • Privacy activists say online ad industry knowingly violated GDPR, Mashable, February 2019
  • Unearthed emails could be smoking gun in epic GDPR battle: Google, adtech giants ‘know they break Euro privacy law’, The Register, February 2019
  • IAB denies any GDPR wrongdoing as complaints are filed with regulators, The Drum, February 2019
  • Privacy activists target the IAB Europe’s GDPR approach, The Drum, February 2019
  • Ad-tech industry: GDPR complaint is like holding road builders to account for traffic violations, The Register, February 2019
  • Google and adtech body criticised over data protection, The Financial Times, January 2019
  • Google and IAB ad category lists show “massive leakage of highly intimate data”, GDPR complaint claims, TechCrunch, January 2019
  • Privacy groups claim online ads can target abuse victims, Wired, January 2019
  • New documents back complaints about online advertising, The Irish Times, January 2019
  • Google and Ad Industry Accused of “Massive” Abuse of Intimate Personal Data, Fortune, January 2019
  • ‘Male impotence’: How tech firms classify what you read, Sky News, January 2019
  • Gripe to UK, Ireland, Poland: Ad tech industry inhales, then ‘leaks’ sensitive info on our health, politics, religion, The Register, January 2019
  • Google and IAB hit with fresh complaints over ‘intimate’ user profiling for adverts, City A.M., January 2019
  • Polish Privacy Group Celebrates Data Protection Day With A Nastygram For RTB, Ad Exchanger, January 2019
  • Google, online ad industry accused of abusing intimate personal data in GDPR complaint, Mashable, January 2019
  • GDPR complaint blasts ‘highly intimate’ Google mental health and male impotence ad labels, The Drum, January 2019
  • GDPR can’t stop behavioral ads, but these bitcoin-friendly browsers can help, Bitcoininist, January 2019
  • Privacy campaigners file new evidence to support claims that Google unlawfully profiles internet users, Computing, January 2019
  • IAB Tech Lab And Google Criticized In EU By Privacy Advocates, MediaPost, January 2019
  • Tech companies ‘using sensitive personal data to target users for ads’, Irish Independent, January 2019
  • Has the fight over privacy changed at all in 2019? TechCrunch, December 2019
  • Tech Giants’ Ad-Revenue Machine Faces Call for EU Attention, Bloomberg, December 2018
  • The Digital Ad Market Is Overdue for Antitrust Review, Bloomberg, December 2018
  • How a small French privacy ruling could remake adtech for good, TechCrunch, November 2018
  • Is The IAB’s Consent Framework In Trouble?, AdExchanger, November 2018
  • Why a French ruling against a small mobile ad firm has ad tech on the defensive, MarketingLand, November 2018
  • Privacy Group Asks European Regulators To Test GDPR Against Seven Tech Companies, AdExchanger, November 2018
  • Brave Asks For US Equivalent To GDPR, EthNews, November 2018
  • New GDPR Ruling In France Could Dramatically Re-shape Online Advertising, TechDirt, November 2018
  • Irish privacy watchdog to investigate Facebook data breach, Politico Europe, October 2018
  • GDPR is ‘Kryptonite’ to Google and Facebook, Brave Executive Tells EU, CCN, October 2018
  • Mozilla co-founder’s Brave files adtech complaint against Google, Reuters (this report also ran in The New York Times, Yahoo! News, and DailyMailOnline), September 2018 
  • As Brave Gears Up to Weaponize Privacy, Google Becomes Its Primary Target, Ad Week, September 2018 
  • How Google is breaking EU privacy law, according to a new complaint, Fast Company, September 2018 
  • Brave browser files GDPR breach complaints against Google in the EU, ZD Net, September 2018 
  • Brave Joins Formal Privacy Complaints Against Google, Others, Bits Online, September 2018 
  • Brave browser dumps Google search in France, Germany, CNet, September 2018 
  • So Brave: Browser biz sics Brit watchdogs on Google’s info slurpage, The Register, September 2018  
  • Pro-privacy company Brave files GDPR complaint against Google, TechSpot, September 2018 
  • Privacy-browser Brave launches GDPR ad tech ‘test case’ against Google, Marketing Tech News, September 2018 
  • Brave Launches Legal Offensive on Google Ads Data Collection Practices, CoinDesk, September 2018
  • Businesses Blast California’s New Data-Privacy Law, Wall St. Journal, July 2018
  • Who will be the main loser from Europe’s new data-privacy law?, The Economist, May 2018
  • What Europe’s Tough New Data Law Means for You, and the Internet, The New York Times, May 2018
  • Why your inbox is crammed full of privacy policies, Wired, May 2018
  • ePrivacy: Why Companies Are Underprepared For A Post-GDPR World AdExchanger, May 2018
  • Playing chicken with regulators: some companies shrug off gdpr, AdAge, May 2018
  • Why there’s a crisis of trust around GDPR, GQ, May 2018
  • Privacy issues emerge as major business risk for Facebook, Reuters, March 2018
  • How GDPR will impact Facebook, Google and online advertising, Marketing Week, May 2018
  • PageFair on IAB consent framework: ‘Violates GDPR’, Martech Today, March 2018
  • Publishers’ trade association on IAB’s proposed framework for GDPR: ‘A non-starter’, Martech Today, March 2018
  • GDPR: What is it? AdWeek, February 2018
  • Google flexed its muscles with new ad-blocking rules, and some smaller players are concerned about its power, CNBC, February 2018
  • Ad tech firms join PageFair’s new Perimeter initiative for GDPR-compliant ad targeting, March Today, January 2018
  • ‘Consent is unworkable’ for programmatic ads in the era of GDPR, Martech Today, January 2018
  • With GDPR looming, DSPs are under pressure to adapt, DigiDay, January 2018
  • A Publisher’s Guide To GDPR, AdExchanger, January 2018
  • As GDPR Looms, Privacy Tech Is On The Rise, AdExchanger, December 2017
  • Meeting the GDPR challenge, Sunday Business Post, December 2017
  • Expect A Contraction Of The Supply Chain In The Leadup To GDPR, AdExchanger, November 2017
  • Facebook: Core EU Business Potentially at Risk when GDPR Comes into Force in May 2018; Legitimate Interest Exemption Likely Not An Escape Hatch; Privacy Activists Preparing to Sue for Violations, The Capitol Forum, November 2017
  • Facebook generated over $700m of its revenue from adblock users, MobileMarketing Magazine, November 2017
  • A Marketer’s Guide To GDPR, AdExchanger, October 2017
  • Google and Facebook: EU’s Draft ePrivacy Regulation Passes Committee and Parliament Vote; Strong Privacy Measures Intact; GDPR, ePrivacy Regulation Pose Risk to Facebook, Google, Other “Surveillance Economy” Participants, The Capitol Forum, October 2017
  • GDPR: a treat for some, a trick for others, Medatel, October 2017
  • What does the EU’s privacy reform mean for US marketers? And what should you do now?, The Drum, October 2017
  • Why the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation directive could save the journalism industry, Press Gazette, September 2017
  • GDPR is coming, and many U.S. ad tech firms aren’t ready, Digiday, September 2017
  • How EU data laws will disrupt Google, Facebook, WARC, September 2017
  • Publicidad Bloqueadores de anuncios: ¿el fin de internet? El País May 2017
  • Stronger Privacy Laws Could Save Advertising From Itself, Wired, April 2017
  • How new EU laws may transform digital marketing across the globe, WARC, April 2017
  • Industry-wide ad blocking could finally acknowledge that online advertising has problems, Business Insider April 2017
  • Google envisage de lancer son propre bloqueur de publicités, Le Monde, April 2017
  • Adblocking is leading to ‘the slow death of niches’ on the web, Business Insider, April 2017
  • Why would Google want to block its own ads?, NPR Marketplace, April 2017
  • Adblocking tools hit web revenue and traffic, study finds, The Irish Times, April 2017
  • GDPR set to be a force for good in advertising Mediatel, April 2017
  • Publishers are trying to stop ad blocker users viewing their content — but there are signs their walls aren’t working, Business Insider, February 2017
  • Ad-blocking software use on the increase, The Australian, February 2017
  • Irish internet users rush to embrace ad blockers, The Irish Times, February 2017
  • (Spanish) El uso de software antipublicidad creció un 30% en 2016, Periodismo, February 2017
  • (Chinese) Ad-blocker 網民續鬥法 研究:用戶參與一團和氣 E-zone, February 2017
  • (Dutch) Adblockers maken mee de switch van desktop naar mobiel, Knack, March 2017
  • European Commission proposal will kill third-party cookies, Mediatel, January 2017
  • New EU Data Regulations Will ‘Rip Global Digital Ecosystem Apart’, AdAge, December 2016
  • This company has a compelling argument why mobile carriers may never be able to roll out ad blocking in Europe, Business Insider, December 2016
  • Why Twitch Is Joining Facebook In Blocking Ad Blockers, Motherboard, December 2016
  • New EU data law could hurt marketers but help publishers, Irish Independent, December 2016
  • Europe’s new privacy rules are about shake adland to its core, Mediatel, November 2016
  • The persuaders try to convince consumers on ads, Financial Times, October 2016
  • Publishers May Need To Get Past Angst Over Ad Blockers, NPR MarketPlace, October 2016
  • “Getting the whole story on ad blocking”, Digital Content Next, Sepember 2016
  • In the ad-blocking war, publishers gain an important ally in Facebook, Poynter, August 2016
  • Industry Tries to Figure Out Whether China Just Banned Ad-Blocking, AdAge, July 2016
  • Mobile ad blocking is still relatively uncommon in the U.S., Engadget, July 2016
  • My Loose Theory of Too Much Information: Value of Trust Goes Up, Huffington Post, July 2016
  • (Indonesian) Orang Indonesia Getol Pasang “Adblocker” di Smartphone, Kompas, July 2016
  • (Spanish) La publicidad va a dejar de financiar al periodismo, Media-Tics, July 2016
  • This week Click looks at ad blockers. As the number of people installing them increases, publishers are hitting back by using ad blocker blockers but where will it all end up? BBC News, June 2016
  • “Premium publishers, trust, and ad blocking”, Digital Content Next, July 2016
  • Mobile Ad Blocking on a Steep Ascent Globally, eMarketer, June 2016
  • (Indonesian) 38 juta pengguna gawai di Indonesia benci iklan, Beritagar, June 2016
  • In the Parallel War of Ad Blockers, Privacy Is Lost, Voice Of America, June 2016
  • “Seven steps you can take to manage the risk of ad blocking”, Digital Content Next, June 2016
  • Here are seven possible ways for publishers to deal with adblockers, NiemenLab, May 2016
  • Can publishers ‘good-ad’ their way out of the ad-blocking phenomenon?,, May 2016
  • Three announces network level ad-blocking trial, Mobile Marketing Magazine, May 2016
  • Asia is leading the adoption of mobile adblocking; North America is dodging the bullet (for now, at least), NiemenLab, May 2016
  • (German) Vodafone denies advertising block plans, Heise, April 2016
  • As Technology Defeats Ad Blocking, Online Ads Must Improve, AdAge, March 2016
  • Financial Times plots website overhaul to uphold the user experience, The Drum, March 2016
  • (German) Nächster Angriff auf Systemebene, HorizonT, March 2016
  • Financial Times plots website overhaul to uphold the user experience, The Drum, March 2016
  • Ad blockers: how online publishing is fighting back, BBC News, February 2016
  • Things Affiliate & Ad-Dependent Publishers Must Consider In The Age Of Mobile, Marketing Land, February 2016
  • (German) “Adblock Action Day” der Verleger: “Adblocking ist wie der Klimawandel”, Heise, February 2016
  • Apple ousts in-app ad blocker from the App Store raising questions over its data-sharing plans, The Drum, January 2016
  • “Is ad blocking good for the consumer?”, WARC, December 2015
  • Advert-Blocking ‘War’: Whose Side Are You On?, Sky News, October 2015
  • Ad Block Apocalypse? Here’s How to Save the Web, Toms Guide, September 2015
  • The Drum Dmexco Highlights: Dr Johnny Ryan, head of ecosystem, PageFair, The Drum September 2015
  • Ad-blocking software threatens growing, critical realm of digital ads, The Globe and Mail, October 2015
  • Ad blocking has grown 41% in the past year and it’s costing publishers tens of billions of dollars, Business Insider, August 2015