FTC, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Others to Gather for IAB Policy Meeting

Online taxes, privacy, data security, spyware, and net neutrality are all on the agenda this afternoon as the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Public Policy Council convenes in Washington, D.C. for its inaugural meeting. Representatives of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), AOL, Yahoo, Google, NewsCorp, Microsoft, CBS and Disney are expected to attend.

“We’re going to have a robust discussion on issues…what issues are central to the online advertising industry,” said Mike Zaneis, VP public policy for the IAB. “We’ll be working to craft our policy and legislative agenda.”

Two senior attorneys from the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Richard Quaresima and Mamie Kresses, are set to speak at the gathering, according to Zaneis.

Since officially claiming ground near Capitol Hill earlier this year, the IAB has already seen some action, taking part in a House Subcommittee hearing on spyware legislation last week.

“Most trade associations in the first two months after opening a D.C. office don’t get to testify on a key piece of legislation,” said Zaneis. The group’s public policy chairman, Dave Morgan, founder and chairman of behavioral targeting firm Tacoda, spoke on behalf of the IAB and his company during last Thursday’s hearing before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection regarding The Spy Act.

“I’ve been up on the hill lobbying quite a bit on the spyware legislation,” said Zaneis.

In addition to spyware, which, on a federal regulatory level has been more a focus of the FTC than Congress, issues including online privacy, data security and retention, and Internet safety for children most likely will be discussed at the meeting.

Taxation of online commerce will also get attention from the IAB council. “You’re going to see a big push to extend the Internet tax moratorium,” Zaneis told ClickZ News. The Internet Tax Freedom Act, signed into law in 1998, is set to expire this November according to current legislation. Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to make the moratorium on Internet taxation permanent.

As for the net neutrality issue, the IAB as an organization knows where it stands, even if some of its members may not agree. “Companies are going to have different positions on the issue,” said Zaneis, noting some IAB members provide telecommunications services, and may have different business objectives than publisher-only members. Net neutrality advocates, which include the Web’s biggest publishers, are pushing to prevent network operators from creating a two-tier system for delivering Web content to users that could favor some publishers.

“We have members who own telecommunications infrastructure who are providers….When they sit down at the table with the IAB, they have to wear the online publisher’s hat,” Zaneis said. “I think there’s a consensus from the Internet advertising industry that net neutrality is an important issue for the industry.”

Though the Public Policy Council has 40 members, Zaneis expects about 15-20 to be present at today’s meeting, mainly those firms with their own D.C.-based public policy departments, such as AOL, CBS, Disney, Google, Microsoft, News Corp and Yahoo. Other members will attend via conference call. The group will meet three to four times each year, Zaneis said.

Having a D.C. presence, he added, “gives [the IAB] the opportunity to bring in key decision makers….These are the people who are on the frontlines of enforcement actions.”

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