Ad Groups Launch New Push For Federal Privacy Law

Faced a growing number of different state privacy laws, the Association of National Advertisers and 4A's on Monday launched a new initiative that aims to persuade federal lawmakers to pass a national data law that would override state laws.

“We have spent years waiting for the federal government to do something,” Marla Kaplowitz, president and CEO of the 4A’s told MediaPost Monday.

“We worry that that if we don't get to federal data privacy legislation, we're in big trouble,” she added.

The new Responsible Privacy in Advertising Initiative expects to also update an industry self-regulatory code by the first quarter of 2024. The ad groups plan to then seek widespread compliance with the new code, and will likely argue to Congress that a federal privacy law should allow advertisers to harness data in ways permitted by the updated code.

The new code is expected to largely align with a 2019 proposal to Congress by Privacy for America -- an umbrella group of ad associations that includes not only the 4A's and Association of National Advertisers but also the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Network Advertising Initiative.



That 2019 proposal urged Congress to ban some practices -- including using data to discriminate based on factors like race or religion, and using data to reject applicants for insurance, jobs, housing or credit.

Privacy for America also said four years ago that it supports a ban on collecting “the most sensitive types” of personal information, including medical financial or biometric data, without people's express consent.

The group proposed that other types of personal information should only be shared with third parties if there are “enforceable contracts ensuring that the other party will secure the data and use it lawfully.”

Privacy for America's 2019 proposal itself expanded on the current self-regulatory code, which requires companies to obtain opt-in consent before collecting sensitive data, and prohibits the use of some data -- specifically, data collected across sites -- to determine eligibility for employment, credit, health care or insurance. That code, like the Privacy for America proposal, allows advertisers to serve ads to consumers based on their activity across sites and apps, unless consumers opt out of receiving those targeted ads.

Venable attorney Stuart Ingis, who represents ad associations, tells MediaPost the upcoming self-regulatory code might also require companies to allow consumers to opt out of particular categories of targeted ads -- such as travel ads, or car ads.

Earlier this year, seven states passed comprehensive privacy laws affecting online advertising -- Delaware,  Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee and Texas. An eighth state, Washington, passed a law aimed at protecting the privacy of health data. Those measures came on top of slightly older privacy laws in five other states -- California, Colorado, Connecticut, Utah and Virginia.

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