Five of the ad industry’s largest trade bodies have banded together to create “Privacy for America,” a coalition that aims to sway Congress in creating federal legislation on consumer data privacy.
The trade bodies -- which include the 4A's, Association of National Advertisers, Digital Advertising Alliance, Interactive Advertising Bureau and Network Advertising Initiative -- are in a race to influence Congress in how lawmakers create federal guidelines surrounding user data for digital marketing.
Their deadline is 2020, primarily because that is when California’s Consumer Data Protection Act goes into effect. The fear is that -- should the trade bodies fail to convince Congress to pass federal regulation -- each U.S. state will adopt its own laws regarding consumer data privacy. As the thinking goes, that situation would create a regulatory nightmare for brands and tech companies alike, as many leverage user data for marketing purposes.
“We could end up with a patchwork of 50 state privacy laws, which will disrupt the American online experience in profound ways, and likely deprive consumers of the access to the content and services they currently enjoy every day," says Dave Grimaldi, executive VP of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Companies including Google, Facebook, AT&T, Hearst, Conde Nast, Disney, CBS and Amazon are all represented by trade bodies in the new group.
Coalition outlines game plan
Regulation surrounding consumer data privacy is imminent in the U.S. following the European Union’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Data Protection Act, as well as scandals such as Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica crisis. It's also become a key issue among elected officials from both sides of the aisle.
Privacy for America’s website says it wants legislation that "would strengthen privacy oversight and enforcement by creating a new Data Protection Bureau at the FTC," the Federal Trade Commission.
A document laying out the coalition's goals leaves many areas vague. The coalition wants “significant restrictions” on data use for advertising, some of which include banning certain types of data from being collected or used for advertising, though the group doesn’t specify what types of data. In regards to the data breaches that seem to occur almost every week, the coalition wants a law that would impose, “for the first time, robust security requirements, including the adoption of required security mechanisms, on virtually every company in this nation.”
It’s unclear what mechanism the group is suggesting to put in place, however.
Additionally, the group wants prohibitions on companies from using data to disqualify people for jobs or insurance, or discriminate against someone based on race or religion for products and services, though companies such as Facebook are already under fire for such business practices.