Shaping Privacy Rules Is 'Priority No. 1' For IAB

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO David Cohen on Monday reiterated the organization's call for a national privacy law that would override state laws.

“If we don't get public policy right and regulation right, nothing else really matters,” he said at the IAB's public policy and legal summit here.

He added that efforts to shape policy were "priority No. 1" for the ad group.

While Cohen said new privacy laws in five states presented a “challenging” environment, he did not repeat the more inflammatory comments he made earlier this year, when he said privacy “extremists” were attempting to destroy the advertising industry.

“We are all working collaboratively toward getting the regulatory environment right,” he said. “Data is the lifeblood of our industry and the information economy.”

At the same time, he said, regulations are “not in conflict with a safe, privacy-centric consumer experience.”

Michael Hahn, general counsel of the organization, added that companies attempting to interpret the various state privacy laws should take a broad view of the statutes. “When faced with a choice between two interpretations of a privacy law, one broad, and one narrow, adopt the broad reading,” he recommended Monday.

“Building your compliance program around a broad interpretation provides durability and sustainability,” he said, adding that regulators tend to take broad approaches.

Hahn also said one “critical change” in the new privacy laws is that they require publishers and advertisers to take responsibility for data they collect. “First parties must take ownership for what happens on their sites,” he said.

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