Ad Industry Groups Band Together in Support of Federal Privacy Laws

Three major ad industry groups are taking part in Privacy for America, an initiative pushing for stronger federal privacy laws. Such legislation would preempt a California law that passed last year.

With chatter around a potential national privacy law picking up steam, major advertising industry groups are jockeying into position with a new coalition.

Privacy for America, a lobbying effort announced this week, brings together three major ad industry groups—the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)—along with two self-regulatory organizations, the Digital Advertising Alliance and the Network Advertising Initiative. The goal of the new coalition? Federal privacy legislation that meets the industry’s interests.

The coalition’s recommended framework for a new privacy law makes the case for broad-based privacy rules for the United States, along with bans on certain types of data practices that relate to fraud, discrimination, privacy, and data-sharing with third parties.

“The legislation would shift the burden from consumers by allowing them to depend on these strong national standards without having to rely on reading hundreds of lengthy privacy policies in order to protect themselves,” the framework says.

The approach recommended by the new coalition would have the effect of preempting California’s data privacy law, which has been controversial since its passage last year, while also using a somewhat softer touch. Dave Grimaldi, IAB’s executive vice president for public policy, told Ad Age that it was important that any federal law preempt any state legislation because of the regulatory challenges it could create.

“We could end up with a patchwork of 50 state privacy laws, which will disrupt the American online experience in profound ways and likely deprive consumers of the access to the content and services they currently enjoy every day,” Grimaldi said.

In comments reported by Morning Consult, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg noted that the approach was intended to show that the ad industry takes this issue seriously.

“It’s imperative for our entire industry to get this right,” Rothenberg stated. “We have to move forward. We have reached a point where there have been a number of faux pas in the industry that it’s time to rectify and get this done right.”

Collectively, the groups represent many of the main targets of the California legislation, including Google, Facebook, AT&T, Comcast, Viacom, and Twitter, which has raised skepticism about the new coalition in some corners.

Consumer Reports Director of Consumer Privacy and Technology Policy Justin Brookman, who also spent time at the Federal Trade Commission, stated to Reuters that the coalition’s interest in strengthening the FTC was welcomed, but he raised concerns that the recommendations weren’t too dissimilar from what the ad industry had done in the past.

“They’re picking some already-on-the-ground fruit,” Brookman told the outlet. “It looks like the existing self-regulatory rules that they’ve had in place for years that didn’t work that well.”

The new coalition comes weeks after Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a similar call for new federal laws targeting the internet, particularly in the realm of privacy.

“New privacy regulation in the United States and around the world should build on the protections GDPR provides,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

(kraisorn waipongsri/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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