Proposition 24 Spurs Ad Industry To Renew Calls For National Privacy Law

Now that California voters appear to have passed the controversial Proposition 24, which will expand the state's already broad privacy law, the ad industry is renewing calls for a federal statute.

“Every American deserves the same privacy rights, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission rather than a balkanized collection of state privacy regulators,” Leigh Freund, president and CEO of the self-regulatory group Network Advertising Initiative, stated Thursday. Leaders of other ad industry organizations expressed similar sentiments earlier in the week.

California's landmark current Consumer Privacy Act, which took effect in January, gives state residents the right to learn what information has been collected about them by companies, have that information deleted, and prevent the sale of that data to third parties.

Proposition 24, slated to take effect in 2023, expands on the existing California law in several ways.

The measure makes it harder for companies to draw on data about consumers' race, ethnicity, health, or finances for advertising purposes. Proposition 24 also aims to close some loopholes in the current law -- including one that may allow companies to continue serving targeted ads to web users even if they attempt to opt out of the sale of their data.

The ad industry has pushed for a federal law since September of 2018, shortly after California lawmakers passed the current privacy bill. Before then, the industry opposed privacy laws that could govern the use of data for commercial purposes.

Whether this week's passage of Proposition 24 will spur Congress to act remains unknown, but it's worth noting that elected officials have proposed a broad array of privacy laws since 2018. To date, none have gained traction.

What's more, Republicans and Democrats disagreed about key matters, including whether a national law should be at least as tough as the current one in California.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) predicted back in 2018 that the Senate won't pass any bill that isn't "progressive."

“We’re not going to get 60 votes for anything and replace a progressive California law, however flawed you may think it is, with a nonprogressive federal law,” the lawmaker said at the time.

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