Ad Industry Presses To Derail California Data Broker Bill

Major ad organizations and other business groups are pressing to derail a bill that would enable residents to easily remove their information from every data broker registered with the state.

In a recent letter to state lawmakers, the organizations argue that the Delete Act (SB 362) would hinder a wide variety of programs and services, including anti-fraud initiatives, loyalty programs and public interest research.

“If passed, SB 362 would negatively impact Californians,” 19 groups including the Association of National Advertisers, American Association of Advertising Agencies, California Retailers Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and NetChoice. “Without data, companies would not be able to deliver critically important products and services consumers benefit from today, sometimes without even being aware of how this data supports their safety and enjoyment of everyday life.”



The groups also argue that the measure would hinder small companies' ability to reach new customers.

“The main way smaller entities advertise and reach and build new audiences for their products and services is by leveraging third-party data sets provided by data brokers,” the groups write. “Absent this data, smaller enterprises will lose a critical path to reach and attract new customers, and consumers overall will have less exposure to new products and services that may interest them.”

The California Consumer Privacy Act already allows people to request removal of their information from data brokers, but on a company-by-company basis. The Delete Act, introduced earlier this year by Senator Josh Becker, would expand on that law by requiring all data brokers in the state to honor a delete request made through a single mechanism.

“Privacy advocates including the Electronic Frontier Foundation support the bill, arguing that data brokers collect the kinds of sensitive information, including health data, that could lead to harassment, discrimination and legal consequences.

“When it comes to the reckless trade of our personal information, data brokers are the problem,” the group wrote in a recent blog post.

The bill was passed by the state Senate earlier this year and advanced late last week in the Assembly, which has until September 14 to vote on the measure.

The Consumer Data Industry Association, which represents credit bureaus and other data brokers, this week launched an ad campaign aimed at defeating the proposed law. That group is running mobile billboards around Sacramento, as well as digital ads expressing concerns about the bill.

“The bill's being rushed through without having a serious debate,” Dan Smith, president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association tells MediaPost. “It's important to slow down and have a serious conversation.”

Smith raises numerous objections to the bill, including that it could hinder fraud prevention efforts that draw on information held by data brokers -- such as what high school consumers attended, or what car model they once owned.

“If deleted, this information would no longer be available for companies to use to confirm people’s identities, making it easier for scammers to gain access to other people’s accounts,” he wrote Monday in a blog post.

Current language in the bill appears to allow data brokers to maintain at least some information for security purposes -- even when consumers request to have their data deleted -- but the extent of that exemption appears unclear.

Business groups and the ad industry also object to a provision requiring data brokers to honor deletion requests submitted by consumers' agents.

Opponents say the bill doesn't set out any standards for authenticating such agent-submitted requests.

“Our concern with these authorized agents is that they don't necessarily have to be vetted,” Chris Oswald, executive vice president, government relations for the Association of National Advertisers.

He adds that the bill could “create a cottage industry of for-profit companies that are going to make requests on behalf of consumers.”

If passed and signed by the governor, the bill will take effect in 2026.

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