Lawmakers Make Ad-Friendly Revisions To Privacy Bill

Federal lawmakers have made some advertiser-friendly revisions to a bipartisan privacy bill that would regulate the collection and use of consumers' data.

Among other changes, the new draft of the bipartisan proposed American Privacy Rights Act, unveiled late Tuesday, appears to require businesses to allow consumers to opt out of online behavioral advertising -- meaning ads served based on cross-site and cross-app data.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce is scheduled to mark up the bill on Thursday.

The new language relating to online behavioral advertising is less restrictive than language in the original version, which was introduced last month by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington). That version, widely considered ambiguous, would have either required companies to obtain opt-in consent for online behavioral advertising, or banned such advertising altogether, depending on interpretation.



In addition to provisions relating to behavioral advertising, the current bill would require data brokers to let consumers opt out of data collection, and request deletion of their data.

The measure additionally would allow consumers to sue over violations.

Chris Oswald, executive vice president at the Association of National Advertisers, said Wednesday the organization is still reviewing the revised draft, but is “pleased that some of the revised language appears to reflect the importance of advertising in driving economic growth and funding a vast array of popular digital services.”

He added that there are still “critical issues in the bill that need to be addressed, including onerous restrictions on third-party data providers, which would prevent businesses of all sizes from delivering valuable offers, content, and services to consumers."

A coalition of business and ad organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce and Association of National Advertisers, separately expressed concerns about various provisions in the bill -- including one that would authorize private lawsuits.

That provision “would empower plaintiffs’ attorneys to engage in sue-and-settle tactics,” the coalition said in a letter sent to lawmakers on Wednesday.

“Companies acting in good faith and not engaging in willfully harmful activity will be forced to agree to pay expensive settlements or risk costly litigation,” that letter states.

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