April 26, 2013


Hearing Looks at Self-Regulation

On April 24, Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee conducted a hearing on the status of voluntary “do-not-track” standards for online behavioral advertising.

Digital Advertising Alliance Managing Director Lou Mastria testified that the industry’s self-regulatory program was up and working, providing consumers with meaningful choices about receiving targeted advertising, and accomplishing much of what Senator Rockefeller has called for in legislation.  Mastria emphasized that industry has done everything it assured the White House and Federal Trade Commission it would do.  Nevertheless, the Senator accused the industry of “dragging its feet” and was upfront in his belief that he does not trust any industry self-regulation.

The Senator praised Microsoft and Mozilla who announced plans to install a default do-not-track feature in their browsers.  Mastria explained that this undermined the industry agreement because it constituted browser choice, not consumer choice, and that it was something of an empty promise given the lack of agreement on a specific definition of “do-not-track.”

Other Senators were more balanced in their approach to the issue.  Senator Dean Heller, R-Nev., said that before moving forward with any legislation, the committee should identify a specific harm that is being addressed.  The closest proponents could come to a “harm” is that tracking is “creepy” to some consumers.

Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., warned that legislation could do more harm than good.  “This is pretty hard,” she said, “We want to make sure we’re doing it in a balanced way that protects consumers, but doesn’t end up with one or two or three Internet companies without the little guys.”

AAF Holds Government Conference

On April 17, over 50 AAF members from across the country gathered in Washington, DC for AAF’s Advocacy and Action: Advertising Day on the Hill.  Attendees hailed from 28 states with 12 of AAF’s 15 districts represented.
The audience heard from numerous speakers, including Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Revenue and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. 

Chairwoman Ramirez’s remarks were somewhat troubling as she, like Senator Rockefeller, called on the industry to implement do-not-track without acknowledging that it largely exists in the DAA program.

After spending the morning being briefed on the issues, the attendees spent the afternoon visiting with their Senators, Representatives and staff to advocate on behalf of the advertising industry.

AAF Asks for Extension to Comply with Children’s Rule

The AAF and 18 other industry associations have asked the FTC to delay the implementation date for revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) rule from July 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014.  The associations are concerned that July 1 is too soon for many businesses to make the substantive changes required to comply, especially since the agency only published its “frequently asked questions” about the rule on April 25.

Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Update to Email Privacy Laws

The Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously passed an update to email privacy laws that will require law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before accessing private data. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act in 1986 only required a subpoena to access emails. Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) are co-sponsoring the bill.  Similar legislation is being considered in the House Judiciary Committee, as well.

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The AAF protects and promotes advertising at all levels of government through grassroots activities. Our nation-wide network monitors advertising-related legislation on local, state and federal levels. We put our members face-to-face with influential lawmakers while encouraging self-regulation as a preemptor to government intervention, when appropriate of course. To learn more about our advocacy efforts, click here.