House privacy group to meet Wednesday with privacy groups, online ad rep

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The first meeting took place last month and included Google, Wal-Mart and data broker firm Blukai. Subsequent meetings were postponed because of the shutdown.

The working group members will meet Wednesday with Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America, Mercatus Center Senior Researcher Adam Theirer and Rachel Thomas, vice president of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association, which represents online advertisers.

Theirer said he is going to discuss with the working group members “the benefits of data collection for the information economy and the provision of digital services.”

Thomas declined to comment on what she will say to the working group, but she noted that her group recently released a report about how data-driven marketing adds to the U.S. economy. When the report was released, Thomas' group encouraged lawmakers and regulators to be cautious when attempting to address privacy concerns related to the online advertising industry.

Chester and Grant have both been vocal and critical members of stakeholder privacy efforts, including the recently-concluded Department of Commerce initiative to improve transparency around mobile data collection. 

The Center for Digital Democracy and the Consumer Federation of America did not endorse the code of conduct that resulted from the initiative, which will require app developers that sign on to give users short, digestible privacy policies on mobile devices. Chester and Grant were critical of the code, saying it did not go far enough to protect the privacy of mobile app users.

Chester is also part of the coalition of privacy groups that called on the working group to be conduct its meetings with the online privacy community in public.

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