ANA Wants Privacy Regime That Bans Some Practices, Allows Opt-Outs For Targeted Ads

The Association of National Advertisers plans to seek federal privacy legislation that would flatly outlaw certain practices, including the use of data for illegal discrimination, while allowing companies to continue to serve behaviorally targeted ads on an opt-out basis.

The organization's proposed approach, outlined Tuesday at an ANA conference by attorney Stu Ingis, is still a work in progress. He describes the model -- which the ANA is calling a “new paradigm” -- as centering around the idea that some uses of data are good, some bad, and some should be left to regulators.

While Ingis didn't provide many specifics, he offered that one potential bad use of data would be for “harmful discriminatory” purposes.

The ANA's “new paradigm” could also include enshrining the industry's current self-regulatory principles into legislation, Ingis says. Principles developed by the self-regulatory group Digital Advertising Alliance call for companies to notify consumers about online tracking -- or the collection of data across multiple sites and apps -- and to allow consumers to opt out of receiving ads targeted based on "non-sensitive" data.

The principles also call for companies to obtain explicit consent before serving consumers with targeted ads based on financial information, data about medical conditions or other information that the industry considers "sensitive." Since 2012, the industry's self-regulatory code has prohibited members from collecting any information about people in order to determine their eligibility for employment, credit, health care or insurance.

He says the ANA began developing this approach as part of an effort to “lean in” to legal developments surrounding privacy -- including the prospect of “a patchwork of state laws.”

Last year, California passed a sweeping privacy law that allows consumers to learn what personal information about them is held by businesses, request deletion of the data, and opt out of the sale of that information. Other states, including Washington, are currently considering enacting their own privacy laws.

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