Proposed Privacy Bill 'Goes Way Too Far,' ANA Says

The Association of National Advertisers as well as the Silicon Valley group Internet Association are lobbying against Rep. Marsha Blackburn's proposed new privacy bill.

The BROWSER Act would require broadband providers as well as "edge" providers -- meaning Google, Facebook and other Web companies -- to obtain people's opt-in consent before using any of their online browsing data for ad targeting.

"In our view, this goes way too far," writes ANA executive vice president Dan Jaffe.

He argues that a great deal of online browsing data isn't sensitive enough to warrant the proposed restrictions. "Substantial amounts of browser and app use data deals with highly innocuous information such as searches for sports scores, weather reports and a multitude of other innocuous every day activities," he writes. "ANA believes that treating too many categories and issues as highly sensitive will undermine the ability of consumers to focus on what is truly significant regarding their privacy interests."



The Internet Association added that the bill "has the potential to upend the consumer experience online and stifle innovation."

Earlier this year, Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, successfully introduced a bill to scrap the Federal Communications Commission's online privacy rules. Those regulations also would have required broadband providers to obtain consumers' opt-in permission before drawing on their Web-browsing activity. But the FCC's rules, unlike Blackburn's proposed restrictions, only applied to Internet service providers and not search engines, social networking services or other edge providers.

The lawmaker says her proposed bill will create "a level and fair privacy playing field by bringing all entities that collect and sell the personal data of individuals under the same rules."

Currently, Web companies tend to allow consumers to opt out of receiving targeted ads, but don't require opt-in consent unless they plan to serve ads based on a narrow category of "sensitive" data -- like financial account numbers or health information.

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