Web Ad Industry and Privacy Wonks See Promise in Rush Bill

  |  July 21, 2010   |  Comments

Unlike another privacy bill draft circulating recently, a bill introduced yesterday received some positive reviews from both sides of the privacy issue.

The online privacy bill introduced yesterday is a step in the right direction, according to both online ad industry players and privacy advocates. While a similar bill draft from Virginia Rep. Rick Boucher floated in May was largely met with negativity from both sides, the bill sponsored by Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois is seen by industry and consumer privacy wonks as a starting framework from which to craft legislation that balances consumer protection and rights with industry goals.

Still, both sides are troubled by aspects of the bill, which will be discussed Thursday during a House hearing.

At first pass, Mike Zaneis, Interactive Advertising Bureau's Public Policy VP, saw the bill as a step in the right direction. In particular, he said a safe harbor provision in the Rush bill for companies participating in an industry self-regulatory program - such as one the IAB and a coalition of advertising trade groups are developing - is "a huge concession to the industry's work towards building an [online behavioral advertising] self regulatory program."

Rush's bill is "much more palatable than the Boucher proposal," said Zaneis. The bill establishes the Federal Trade Commission as the agency responsible for setting processes for implementation and compliance with provisions. Rush's H.R. 5777 "advances the discussion," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. The CDD is part of a coalition of privacy and consumer rights groups lobbying to strengthen consumer protections in the bill. "The key conclusion about the Boucher bill was that it wasn't clear that the Federal Trade Commission would have clarity around rulemaking authority," he said, suggesting the Rush bill does provide more clarity.

Chester indicated that privacy advocates are pleased with stipulations that give states and individuals the ability to take civil action against companies that collect, store, and use consumer data that they believe are in violation of requirements to provide opt-out consent for collection and use of personal information. However details of that provision, removing liability for some companies, may not be considered adequate by consumer protection advocates. The bill gives safe harbor from private legal action to companies in compliance with the would-be self-regulatory program.

The bill calls for the program - subject to FTC approval - to require companies collecting and using consumer data to provide a "clear and conspicuous opt-out mechanism" prohibiting said companies from disclosing personal data to third parties. The bill also suggests that industry self-regulation could provide a tool for consumers to manage preferences, including "online behavioral advertising preferences."

It also requires establishment of procedures for compliance assessment of companies in the program, as well as establishment of consequences for failure to comply. Those might include public notice of noncompliance, suspension or expulsion from the program, or referral to the FTC for enforcement, states the bill.

The FTC would be required to set up guidelines and processes for the program no later than 18 months after enactment of the law. The bill also calls on the FTC to conduct a consumer education campaign to notify people of their related rights.

Chester called the fact the bill gives the FTC control over setting parameters a good thing. "We recognize there's a role for safe harbor," Chester said, adding, "We also believe in and support a role for online advertising." One concern among privacy advocates lies in the amount of leeway government gives the digital ad industry. Overall, suggested Chester, the bill should help reduce the amount of user data collected and give consumers more control over that collection and data usage.

Although additional progress on the bill could be made during a House subcommitee hearing scheduled for Thursday, it is likely that not much more will be done before Congress breaks for recess between August 9 and September 12. Even if the bill does eventually become law, it would not take effect for two years after its enactment.

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?

Jobs

    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora, www.agora-inc.com, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...