ANA Pushes for Balanced Approach to Privacy

Advertising Law

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is pushing back against the proliferation of privacy legislation similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s new privacy law in a new letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The NTIA requested public comment on “International Internet Policy Priorities,” and the ANA answered the call.

“Other jurisdictions, such as the EU, have taken a more restrictive approach to regulating Internet privacy, which threatens the free flow of information online and impacts U.S. businesses and consumers,” Dan Jaffe, ANA’s group EVP, government relations, wrote. “We recommend that the NTIA carry out a rigorous analysis on the impacts of alternative privacy frameworks such as the EU’s GDPR to determine their effects on competition and consumers. We believe the NTIA will find that laws like the GDPR will limit competition, overburden consumers with opt-in notices and make an efficient and effective digital economy harder to maintain.”

Emphasizing the foundational value of advertising and marketing in American society—fueling economic growth, fostering a wide array of affordable media choices and educating the public—the industry group stated that the current digital economy relies heavily on advertising and marketing.

“To ensure that consumers continue to enjoy online content, products, and services at little to no cost to them, the data that underpins advertising and marketing must continue to be available and overly proscriptive regulatory efforts should be rejected,” according to the letter.

The biggest challenge to the free flow of information online is overregulation of data, the ANA wrote, citing both the GDPR and the recently passed California Consumer Privacy Act, “which restricts the flow of data, creates significant new compliance costs for companies operating in California and across the country, and puts in jeopardy standard business activities.”

Legislative proposals mirroring such laws “could disrupt the digital economy,” the ad group cautioned, also expressing concern about laws that propose opt-in consent requirements. The historical standard for advertising and marketing has been an opt-out model, the letter noted, suggesting the NTIA assess the impact of the two different schemes.

Encouraging the agency to consider the U.S. privacy model—private, sectoral and targeted—in lieu of the EU’s one-size-fits-all approach, the ANA highlighted the industry’s self-regulatory efforts, including the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Self-Regulatory Principles.

“Self-regulation, in addition to the U.S. sectoral privacy model that focuses on privacy harms and respects context, has worked for decades to ensure responsible use of data for advertising and marketing purposes, while enabling the growth of a strong data-driven advertising and marketing digital economy,” the group concluded. “This model stands in clear contrast to GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act. We strongly urge the NTIA to undertake a rigorous analysis of the GDPR and similar laws and prioritize policies that create strong consumer internet privacy protections at a level that ensures that consumers continue to have access to the full benefits of the internet and that maintains the United States’ leadership in the digital economy.”

To read the letter, click here.

Why it matters: The ANA had little love for the GDPR or California’s new privacy law, encouraging the NTIA to take a different approach to regulation that recognizes the benefits provided by advertising and marketing. “Strong consumer privacy protections are important and must be balanced with the other benefits of the digital economy that consumers value and expect, including personalized services, seamless product and service offerings, and affordable choices,” the group wrote.