AAF Government Report

August 6, 2009

Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs

FTC to be More Aggressive with Online Advertising

In a recent interview, David Vladeck, the new Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trace Commission promised a much more aggressive agency in the area of online privacy protections. “The frameworks that we’ve been using historically for privacy are no longer sufficient,” said Vladeck. “Consumers, I don’t think are sufficiently protected under the current regime.”

According to Vladeck, posting a privacy policy, even when it is followed to the letter will not protect a marketer, “I don’t believe that most consumers either read them, or if they read them, really understand it,” he said. Vladeck said he would consider requiring an opt-in standard wherein a site would have to get affirmative consent from a consumer before collecting any personal data.

The Commission has also adopted a new standard for harm. In a recently settled case, consumers agreed, and were paid, to participate in a tracking program with Sears. The Commission alleged no economic harm but according to Vladeck, “There’s a huge dignity interest wrapped up in having somebody looking at your financial records.”
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Senate Chairman Wants to End Broadcasters’ Royalty Exemption

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy told broadcasters at an August 4 hearing that his legislation to end AM and FM radio’s exemption from paying royalty fees for the music they play will move in this Congress. The music industry contends that the broadcasters should compensate musicians for playing their music. Broadcasters believe that musicians benefit from the promotional value of airplay and that additional fees would jeopardize the ability of many stations to stay on the air. A similar measure passed in the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year.
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Group Seeks to Limit Movie Ads

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has written to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to take action to insure that PG-13 rated motion pictures are not shown in broadcast or cable programming aimed at young children. The group claims that the current Motion Picture Association of America ratings are inadequate and that “PG-13 movies are not marketed in a manner consistent with their rating.” The MPAA counters that the system is working well and “None of the movies that they have identified as being problematic have ever been approved for placement before 5 p.m., and are only placed with compatible programming at times when parents are more likely to be aware of their children's viewing habits."
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Lawmakers Urge Continued ICANN Relationship

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif. and Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va. have written to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke urging that the ties between the Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) be continued. Rather than extending the Joint Project Agreement, which is due to expire on September 30, 2009, the lawmakers suggest it be replaced by “a permanent instrument to which ICANN and the Deparment of Commerce are co-signatories.” The lawmakers believe that “this statement of commitments and principles would ensure that ICANN remains perpetually accountable to the public and to all of its global stakeholders.”

The lawmakers’ letter echoes concerns that AAF and other industry representatives have previously expressed to Commerce Secretary Locke. The Waxman/Boucher letter can be found here. The AAF letter can be found here.
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