IAB Says Privacy Bill Must Consider Third Parties, Too

The U.S. House may have an online privacy bill introduced as soon as November – that is, if Rep. Rick Boucher, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet comes through with what he says he hopes to accomplish before Congress goes into winter hibernation.

“We are making rapid progress and hope to have a bill introduced before recess,” he said in an interview with beltway pub The Hill on Tuesday.

“The key elements [of the legislation] are going to be that every website will have to disclose every piece of information that they collect from visitors and how that information is used by the website that collects it. And then users should have control over that process,” added Boucher in the interview.

When reporting on this story yesterday, I was unable to get Interactive Advertising Bureau VP of Public Policy Mike Zaneis on the line. I figured he’d have a response to Boucher’s recent statements about his plans for legislation.

You bet he did.

Mike sent me the following comment via e-mail this afternoon:
IAB welcomes the further delay in introducing online privacy legislation, as there is clearly more work to be done in helping Congress understand the interactive advertising ecosystem, especially the distinction between first party publishers and their third party partners. The current approach being outlined by Congressman Boucher is especially troubling as he seems to favor imposing strict liability on publishers for all data usage. You cannot address legitimate online privacy concerns by implementing a publisher-only solution, that approach ignores the operational realities of the Internet and misplaces many of the consumer protection obligations.

The IAB’s membership consists mainly of Web publishers, so it’s not surprising this is the angle the organization is taking. But no matter what the IAB’s agenda, there’s no question that third-party firms play a major role in all forms of online ad targeting, including behavioral. How they will be addressed in any future legislation remains to be seen.

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