Ad Industry Asks For More Time To Consider FCC's Privacy Plan

A broad array of industry organizations is asking the Federal Communications Commission for two more months to respond to a proposal that would restrict Internet service providers' ability to engage in online behavioral advertising.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau, American Association of Advertising Agencies, Direct Marketing Association, self-regulatory group Network Advertising Initiative, and others say in a new filing with the FCC that the proposed regulations could have a "policy impact well beyond" the telecom industry.

The groups say the proposal would "define terms central to the data ecosystem, including personally identifiable information," and that it "seeks to construct a new data security regime, notwithstanding preexisting and overlapping state and federal laws, jurisdictional and enforcement conflicts with other agencies, repeated instances of legislative and executive forbearance in this area, and ongoing policy debates in Congress."

The IAB and others argue that they need more time to gather reactions from their members, and to evaluate the proposed regulations.

In March, the FCC voted 3-2 to move forward with a plan to require broadband providers to obtain subscribers' explicit consent before using data about their Web-surfing activity to serve them targeted ads. The FCC's 147-page notice of proposed rulemaking also poses more than 500 questions, including whether certain forms of tracking technologies -- including "supercookies" and "deep packet inspection" -- should be banned.

The agency has called for initial comments by May 27. The industry groups want the FCC to extend that period to July 26.

The request comes one week after the Association of National Advertisers also urged the FCC to extend the comment deadline by two months.

A coalition of major cable and telecom industry organizations also requested a two-month extension, in order to consider the "sweeping and unprecedented privacy, data security, and data breach rules" set out in the FCC's notice of proposed rulemaking.

"The Commission seeks to impose comprehensive and onerous requirements on a service that never before was subject to FCC privacy, data security, or data breach rules," the CTIA, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, U.S Telecom Association and others say in written comments. "Granting an extension here would enable all stakeholders -- and the Commission itself -- to pursue policymaking at a more rationale and productive pace."

But privacy advocates say the FCC should move forward with the previously announced timeline. The Center for Digital Democracy, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Free Press and other watchdogs say the FCC's proposal was expected. "The public has long had notice of many of the questions the FCC would attempt to address in this proceeding because of the extensive interactions between the FCC, regulated entities, and the public," those organizations said last week in a filing.

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