ANA and a coalition of advertising and marketing industry groups issued a statement in support of Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Congressman Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN) recently introduced Joint Resolutions disapproving of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband privacy regulations.
These regulations, which we have analyzed several times in this blog, will be disastrous for advertisers who seek to use consumers’ data to target relevant and meaningful advertisements to them. The Commission’s unprecedented rules require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to obtain opt-in consent to use and share “sensitive data,” which has been defined to include all web browsing and application use history when linked to a device alone.
Every time someone goes online utilizing an ISP device to look up almost anything, they will need to provide opt-in consent before that information can be gathered. Already, children’s data, significant financial and health information, and precise geolocation data are considered sensitive privacy categories, but treating general browser activity and app use history as equally sensitive and therefore deserving an opt-in consent requirement makes no sense at all.
These rules clearly represent a regulatory overreach by the FCC. Earlier this month, both newly appointed FCC Chair Ajit Pai and FTC Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen voiced support for reconsidering the rules and reevaluating their implications for the holistic privacy protection of the American people. ANA filed comments with the FCC urging them to take this action, and we also sent a letter to members of Congress in support of a Congressional Review Act (CRA) measure to suspend the rules.
The CRA was designed as a “common-sense check on anti-consumer regulations like this,” and we believe Congressional action would send a strong signal to all regulatory agencies that seek to set anti-business and anti-consumer policy moving forward.
The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn rules within 60 legislative days. The Congress should strongly support Senator Flake and Chairman Blackburn’s initiative.
As we noted in our statement, “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.” Congress and the FCC need to act quickly to overturn these rules in order to protect the Internet economy and maintain significant and consistent privacy protections for all consumers.