The trade group NetChoice is joining advertisers in criticizing an online privacy bill introduced late last month by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn.
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.
"On its face, the BROWSER Act seems like pro-consumer privacy legislation. But it’s actually an awful deal for Americans who’ve come to depend on free online content and services," NetChoice's senior counsel Carl Szabo writes in an op-ed in The Hill. NetChoice's members include Google, AOL, Yahoo and Facebook.
Szabo adds that the measure "would erase $340 billion in advertising revenue from American websites over the next five years."
That figure appears premised on the idea that consumers won't affirmatively agree to be tracked for ad-targeting purposes.
Last week, the Association of National Advertisers also weighed in against the proposed bill.
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. 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.
Blackburn has said 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."
Her bill also tasks the Federal Trade Commission with enforcement. Some privacy advocates have expressed skepticism over Blackburn's measure, arguing that it could prevent individual states from passing stronger laws.
The watchdog Public Knowledge, which supported the FCC's now-scrapped rules, has said it is evaluating the bill.