Advertisers urge Congress to roll back internet privacy rule

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The advertising industry is calling on Congress to eliminate the Federal Communications Commission’s privacy rules on internet providers.

Six advertising trade groups on Monday applauded Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) for introducing bills last week that would roll back the rules approved in October.

“Our digital economy is the global leader, providing billions of dollars in ad-supported content and services to consumers, and the innovation and investment that have driven its success have rested on robust, consistent self-regulatory privacy standards backstopped by the Federal Trade Commission,” the groups said in a statement.

“Without prompt action in Congress or at the FCC, the FCC’s regulations would break with well-accepted and functioning industry practices, chilling innovation and hurting the consumers the regulation was supposed to protect.”

{mosads}The statement came from the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the American Advertising Federation, the Association of National Advertisers, the Data & Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Network Advertising Initiative.

The GOP bills would eliminate the privacy rules using the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to undo recent regulations with only a simple majority in the House and the Senate. Republicans would be able to take down the rules without needing Democratic votes and would prevent the FCC from implementing similar rules in the future.

The privacy rules approved under former Democratic Chairman Tom Wheeler have sparked controversy.

They require internet service providers to obtain permission from consumers before using sensitive data for marketing purposes.

But Republicans and internet providers have criticized the rules for straying from the privacy framework that had been enforced by another agency, the Federal Trade Commission. They also believe it subjects service providers like AT&T and Comcast to tougher regulations than web companies, like Google or Facebook

“The Congressional Review Act was designed as a common-sense check on anti-consumer regulations like this, and we are pleased that Senator Flake, Congressman Blackburn, and their colleagues are using it to such positive effect. We strongly urge Congress to support and quickly act on these Joint Resolutions,” the ad groups said in their statement.

Jeff Chester, the executive director of the advocacy group Center for Digital Democracy, responded to the advertisers’ endorsement in a statement on Monday that blasted them for their campaign.

“They are afraid of the new FCC privacy safeguard because it enables an individual to make their own decision about how their sensitive information, such as web browsing history or geo-location, can be used for marketing purposes,” Chester said.
“The IAB, DMA, ANA and the others know that their members have unleashed a out-of-control “Big Data” machine that captures everything we do—on Facebook, Google, in the store, on our mobile phones and more.”

Updated 4:26 p.m. 

Tags Jeff Flake Marsha Blackburn

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