Major Industry Victory on CA AB 375

September 18, 2017

California’s AB 375, the California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, was pushed to the “inactive file” as the legislature finished up its term on Friday, September 15th. This is a major victory for advertisers in California and across the country as the bill would have required virtually all Internet service provider (ISP) communication, including web browsing history, to be classified as personally identifiable and creating the need for opt-in consent for the collection of this data. A broad range of advertisers use this type of data to target ads to consumers online, and all of these entities would have been affected. Despite the fact that there were several differences, the bill was an attempt to follow the FCC’s broadband privacy rule which was overturned by Congress and President Trump earlier this year. Due to California’s enormous impact on the U.S. economy, this legislation would have created broad adverse precedents and started a domino effect of other states passing similar bills.

This is also a victory for consumers. Broadband users would either have had to agree to a global opt-in of this data being collected and used by the ISP or been faced with a barrage of opt-in requests for data collection every time they visited a different website. This legislation also exposed consumers to additional cyber threats as it restricted broadband providers’ ability to share cybersecurity information with other entities, including the government.

Beyond the adverse impacts to the advertising community and to consumers, there were many procedural problems with how the bill was being moved through the legislature. It was initially passed from the Assembly to the Senate as a completely different bill, and was then gutted and amended to include the broadband privacy language. It was then substantially amended two separate times after hearings were held, so that the final version up for vote was never debated or given the chance to be evaluated by outside entities.

ANA was very active in the effort to defeat AB 375 by voicing our opposition with California’s Senate and Assembly members. We encouraged our members to individually oppose, and we solicited support from our colleagues in the ad community. ANA is also a member of the State Privacy and Security Coalition and the California Chamber of Commerce, which led the effort to rally groups in opposition to the bill. The overwhelming action from not only companies in California but also groups around the country shows just how powerful our industry is to U.S. business and the economy.

Even though we are very pleased that AB 375 did not pass this session, we cannot rest on our laurels. Proponents are likely to try to move this bill early in the next session, which starts in January 2018, and other groups are threatening a California ballot initiative that is even more sweeping than AB 375. We will continue to communicate with the California legislature to express the very negative consequences this type of bill would have on consumers and the economy, and we will also continue to push to keep this legislation from passing in any other state.


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