Montana Passes Right To Opt Out Of Targeted Advertising

Montana lawmakers on Friday passed a privacy bill that gives state residents new rights to wield control over data about them, including the right to reject some forms of targeted advertising.

Senate Bill 384 now heads to Governor Greg Gianforte for signature.

Lawmakers in seven other states have passed comprehensive privacy laws -- California, Connecticut, Colorado, Utah, Virginia, Iowa and Indiana.

If enacted, the Montana bill will give residents the right to opt out of the use of data linkable to them -- including pseudonymous data, such as information stored on cookies -- for behaviorally targeted ads. (The measure defines ad targeting as serving ads to people based on their online activity over time and across nonaffiliated websites or apps.)

The bill also generally requires companies to tell residents what non-pseudonymous data has been collected about them, and to delete that data upon request, among other requirements.

In addition, the measure obligates companies to provide prominent links that enable consumers to opt out of targeted advertising, and provides that companies must honor opt-out universal signals that consumers send with mechanisms like the Global Privacy Control. That tool, developed by privacy advocates, transmits an opt-out command to every website consumers visit. 

An earlier version of the bill wouldn't have given consumers the right to avoid having pseudonymous data used for ad targeting, and wouldn't have required companies to honor universal opt-out signals.

Advocacy group Consumer Reports voiced approval of the bill, which was revised after the organization raised concerns about the initial version.

“We commend Montana lawmakers for advancing meaningful privacy legislation that will help protect the personal information of their constituents,” Matt Schwartz, policy analyst at Consumer Reports, stated.

If signed, most provisions will take effect in October.

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