Commentary

Ad Industry Joins Campaign Opposing California Privacy Initiative

The ad industry is joining tech companies and broadband providers in opposing a California privacy initiative that would allow consumers to prevent data about them from being sold.

Three industry organizations -- the Association of National Advertisers, Data & Marketing Association and Network Advertising Initiative -- recently donated a combined $125,000 to a group opposing the proposal. Microsoft recently contributed $195,000, while Uber donated $50,000.

The proposed California Consumer Privacy Act would require companies to tell consumers what "personal information" has been collected about them upon their request, and allow consumers to prevent that information from being sold to third parties.

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The initiative's broad definition of personal information includes not only names, street addresses and email addresses, but also information that many marketers don't consider personally identifiable -- like IP addresses, device identifiers, geolocation data and web-browsing history.

Backers of the initiative recently submitted 625,000 signatures in favor of it -- almost twice as many as the 365,880 needed to qualify for a spot on November's ballot. Supporters include the Consumer Federation of California, search engine Duck Duck Go, Consumers Union and the Center for Public Interest Law.

Earlier this year, five companies -- Facebook, Google, Verizon, AT&T and Comcast -- gave $200,000 each to the opposition effort. Facebook and Verizon subsequently dropped out of the organization leading the opposition -- which calls itself the "Committee to Protect California Jobs."

The ANA previously weighed in against Federal Communications Commission privacy regulations that required broadband providers to obtain consumers' opt-in consent before drawing on their web-browsing history for ad targeting. Those regulations, passed in 2016, were repealed last year by Congress. The ANA also helped derail a proposed California law that would have restored the FCC privacy regulations on a statewide basis.

1 comment about "Ad Industry Joins Campaign Opposing California Privacy Initiative".
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  1. Norman Smit from Integrated Media Strategies, June 8, 2018 at 11:04 a.m.

    Personally, I'm all for steps to be taken on the continuing and unbridled sale of personal data. I'm not in California, so I can't vote for the measure, but I hope it succeeds.
    This morning, for example, I had several robocalls with spoofed numbers as a result of data being sold that included my mobile number for two-factor authentication.  I now pay for call screening and blocking.  I work in the marketing and communications profession, so I'm aware of the value of accurate digital profiles for marketing.  But with the ongoing revelations on poor handling of data - breaches and the like - along with the sharing of data by Facebook and others with third parties, the implications for social engineering are apparent.  Apple's recent announcement of the anonymising features in the latest versions of IOS is an example of how at least one mobile manufacturer sees offering this feature as an opportunity to turn public anger on continuing digital intrusion into market share.  Without responsible use of private data in which people are given more control over their data - including the option to opt out, prevent resale, or 'be forgotten' - I expect you will see an increased use of blockers, VPNs, and other measures by people to deliberately obfuscate their interactions with the digitial world.

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