AAF Government Report

May 7, 2010

Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs

Draft Privacy Measure Unveiled

Congressmen Rick Boucher, D-Va. and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla. have released their long awaited discussion draft of privacy legislation. Boucher and Stearns are the chairman and ranking minority member of the House Subcommittee on Communications Technology and the Internet.

The draft requires any company that collects personally identifiable information about individuals to conspicuously display an easily understandable privacy policy that explains how the information is collected, used and disclosed. The bill would allow companies to collect non-sensitive information from individuals and use that information to serve advertising unless an individual specifically opts-out of sharing. Consumers would have to opt-in before a company may collect sensitive information, such as medical or financial information.

An individual would have to grant affirmative permission before a company could share personally identifiable information with an unaffiliated third party other than for operational or transactional reasons. Unless the consumer opts-out, a website may share an individual’s information with a third party ad network as long as there is a clear, easy-to-find link for the network that allows a person to edit his or her profile or opt-out of having a profile, provided that the ad network does not share the individual’s information with any other party.

The bill would allow the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general or state consumer protection agencies to enforce the law.

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 FCC to Claim Expanded Jurisdiction Over Broadband

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced plans to have the agency regulate broadband access providers under the same title of the Communications Act as telephone services. Currently, the Internet is regulated as an information service. The reclassification would give the Commission much greater jurisdiction over the Internet.

The FCC does not plan to regulate the Internet to the degree it does telecommunications services according the Commission’s General Counsel. Successful reclassification would make it easier for the Commission to enforce net neutrality rules. A U.S. Court of Appeals recently ruled that the FCC does not currently have the necessary authority to enforce the rules.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Rockefeller, D-W.Va. and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif. each expressed support for the change. Broadband access providers have indicated the change will likely be challenged in the courts.

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Senate Considering Financial Regulation

The Senate has begun consideration of the Financial Reform legislation. The House passed version of the bill would give expanded powers to the Federal Trade Commission. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Rockefeller will reportedly offer an amendment to clarify that the FTC retains jurisdiction over financial services provided by non-financial service companies. However, there has been no report as of this writing of an effort to grant the agency the enhanced powers in the House bill. AAF has alerted its members to the importance of this issue. It has also joined allied associations in an advertisement  in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, as well as in a letter to Senate Leadership stating our reasons for opposing the increased powers.

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AAF to Host Meet and Greet

The AAF will host a meet and greet with Representative Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. on Wednesday, May 12. Congresswoman Berkley is a member of the tax writing Ways and Means Committee. Her district is home to our local affiliate AAF-Las Vegas. AAF meet and greets are an excellent way to get to know and educate important policymakers in a small and informal setting. If you would like to attend the meet and greet, or learn how to host one in your local market, contact Clark Rector at crector@aaf.org or 202-898-0089.

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