IAB: New Surveillance Ad Bill Is Devastating

advertising, smart cities, technology
(Image credit: MR.Cole_Photographer via Getty Images)

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has taken aim at the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act, which would ban the use of personal information to target most online advertising, saying the bill would kill the commercial internet as we know it.

The bill was introduced this week by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). IAB said they must not understand the degree to which the bill would "effectively eliminate internet advertising in the United States, jeopardizing an estimated 17 million jobs primarily at small- and medium-sized businesses."

“If the sponsors understood the devastating effects this bill would have, not only on the advertising industry, but also on our entire economy, they wouldn’t have introduced it,” said IAB CEO David Cohen in a statement.

Also: FTC Ponders Rules on Data Privacy

The bill prohibits advertisers or third parties from using personal data for most targeted advertising, the exceptions being ones that use broad location targeting to, say, a specific city.

The bill would prevent any targeting of ads based on race, gender, religion or any personal data purchased from data brokers. It would not prohibit so-called "contextual advertising," which are ads relevant to content a user is engaging with.

It also defines that personal information broadly, saying it comprises "data linked or reasonably linkable to an individual or connected device, including inferred and derived data, contents of communications, internet browsing history, and advertising identifiers."

Also: Digital Advertising Still Growing, But Faces Concerns, IAB Report Says

“Banning personalized ads would severely impact an increasingly important economic sector, stifling innovation and dramatically harming the small business community who use data-driven advertising to promote their goods and services and reach customers all over the world,” said Cohen. “This bill would make advertising less precise, more expensive, and raise costs for everyone.

“This terrible bill would disenfranchise businesses that advertise on the internet, and hundreds of millions of Americans who use it every day to find exactly what they need, quickly. It could eliminate the commercial internet almost entirely." ■

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.