Ad Industry Coalition Offers Detailed Framework for Federal Privacy Law

Privacy for America is putting its hat in the ring with a proposal of what a federal privacy law could look like. Among other things, the proposal would increase oversight for nonprofits on privacy issues.

With the first state-level privacy law weeks away from taking effect, an industry coalition is putting its hat in the ring as a federal law gets debated.

Privacy for America, founded earlier this year by a number of ad industry groups, announced a legislation framework for a federal data privacy law that, if followed, would flip the current “privacy policy” model on its head, instead creating a set of rules that everyone would follow.

“This framework offers a detailed new approach with robust protections for consumers and clear penalties for companies that do not comply,” explained the coalition’s coordinator, Stuart Ingis, in a news release.

The in-depth framework [PDF] offers privacy protections to consumers—with elements that specifically target the “tween” age group, which is highly active online, as well as requirements that privacy policies be made easy to read. It also would greatly expand the rule-making capabilities of the Federal Trade Commission on privacy issues.

Notably for the association and nonprofit fields, the framework “would give the FTC expanded authority over nonprofits and common carriers for purposes of the new law,” according to the text of the framework.

Other provisions include rules that would prevent employers from using consumer data for job, employment, healthcare, or financial aid eligibility; the ability for consumers to request access to and deletion of personal data managed by an organization; the ability to limit predictive uses of consumer data by companies; and requirements that sensitive data not be used without express user consent.

“This new paradigm shifts the burden away from consumers and toward a common set of privacy norms, backed by strong enforcement to ensure accountability by the businesses and organizations that use data every day,” the coalition said in the news release.

The effort is being supported by an association-centric steering committee, including the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Association of National Advertisers, Digital Advertising Alliance, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and Network Advertising Initiative.

The effort comes as California’s state-level privacy law gets set to take effect in January. California’s law, which does not affect nonprofits, has been widely criticized by both the tech and advertising industries in particular for creating a patchwork approach to privacy.

A federal act is currently in the works, and Privacy for America’s work could inform the final result. One challenge that a bill may face is that there are diverging visions of what the final result will look like. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said during a hearing on Wednesday that there were many proposals, but no consensus on any one piece of legislation.

“People are angry and scared more than ever before and they don’t care whether it’s a federal law or a state law,” he said, according to CNBC. “They want a law. And you will see state laws all around the country, hopefully they won’t create too much inconsistency, but that’s where we’re going if we fail to act.”

(Kirill_Savenko/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

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

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