The ad industry is criticizing California Attorney General Xavier Becerra over a recent Twitter post that expressed approval of a new privacy tool that could function as a universal opt-out mechanism.
Becerra's tweets have “created additional confusion for businesses that have been working to comply with the CCPA and the ever-evolving rules his office continues to develop,” the Association of National Advertisers, American Association of Advertising Agencies, Interactive Advertising Bureau and American Advertising Federation said in a statement issued Monday.
The “global privacy control” tool -- a downloadable extension for some browsers, including those operated by Mozilla, Abine, Brave, and DuckDuckGo -- transmits a do-not-sell request when users visit websites.
On Thursday, Becerra tweeted that the tool satisfies the California Consumer Privacy Act's requirement that companies allow people to opt out of the sale of their data.
“#CCPA requires businesses to treat a user-enabled global privacy control as a legally valid consumer request to opt out of the sale of their data,” Becerra tweeted. “CCPA opened the door to developing a technical standard, like the [global privacy control], which satisfies this legal requirement & protects privacy.”
The ad groups take issue with that post.
“The Attorney General has provided no justification for his conclusion, no information on the standards applied to his review, and no information on how or when his office intends to enforce this requirement,” the ad groups state.
The industry organizations intend to reach out to Becerra and ask him to reconsider, ANA group Executive Vice President for Government Relations Dan Jaffe tells MediaPost.
“It's troubling that important decisions are being made by tweet,” Jaffe says.
He adds that the ad industry doesn't believe the California privacy law empowers Becerra to mandate compliance with a global opt-out tool, as opposed to company-by-company opt-outs.
“Nothing in the CCPA that gives him the authority to make this decision,” Jaffe says.
Becerra, who has been tapped by President Joe Biden to serve as secretary of the Department of Health and Services, is expected to soon step down as state attorney general.
The California privacy law, which took effect in January, gives consumers the right to learn what personal information has been collected about them by companies, have that information deleted, and prevent the sale of that data to third parties.
Regulations crafted by Becerra and finalized last August require companies to honor global do-not-sell requests that consumers send through browser-based tools.
When the global opt-out tool was first unveiled in beta in October, Becerra tweeted that it was a “first step towards a meaningful global privacy control that will make it simple and easy for consumers to exercise their privacy rights online.”
The ad industry has opposed a mandate to honor global opt-outs since it first appeared in the proposed privacy regulations, arguing that the text of the law itself doesn't require companies to honor universal opt-outs. The industry has also argued that requiring companies to honor a global opt-out, violates the First Amendment by placing too high a burden on commercial speech.