Advertisers: FTC Must Cast Critical Eye on GDPR, California Law

Advertisers said they want the Federal Trade Commission to back federal privacy legislation that mirrors the proposals of the Privacy for America coalition, which include creating a new Data Protection Bureau within the agency, ensuring responsible advertising practices, requiring strong data security protections, and authorizing strict penalties for violations.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) was making that pitch in final comments to the agency on its series of hearings, Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.

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ANA said it backs giving the agency stronger enforcement authority and preventing the use of some specific data for advertising, or to use it to discriminate in things like housing and employment. But it also wants that legislation to preempt state privacy efforts and take a hard look at one of those efforts--a tough new California privacy law--as well as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, both efforts it calls "minimally tested."

“ANA believes a national privacy law should...enhance the development of a competitive level playing field for marketers and other businesses, and assure consumers that their data will be used by business only for approved non-discriminatory purposes," said Sam Jaffe, ANA Group EVP.

And while ANA said the FTC should learn from GDPR, it suggests that should be a critical and thorough assessment. “ANA encourages the FTC to critically evaluate the effects of the GDPR and CCPA through a research study carried out by its Bureaus of Economics and Competition and provide a public report of its findings," said Jaffe. "This report should include addressing the impacts of the regulations on small businesses, consolidation in the market, and the availability of free and varied content online, among other benefits and costs to consumers.”

The Privacy for America coalition includes most of the major ad agency associations, including the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

The chairman of the FTC has already given Congress a wish list of privacy enforcement asks.Those include more enforcement authority, but targeted authority to implement federal privacy legislation currently being considered by Congress rather than broad rulemaking authority. In testimony before Congress, FTC chair Joe Simons also said the FTC needs civil penalty authority—currently it can only try and make consumers whole for losses, not penalize the conduct responsible; and jurisdiction over nonprofits and common carriers, which it currently lacks.

Simons said what he wanted was for Congress to come up with bipartisan privacy legislation, define it "fairly well"--perhaps looking at the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act as a model, and "give us targeted rulemaking authority so we can keep it up to date and make technical changes for developments in technology or in business methods."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.