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Do Not Track Bill Introduced in California State Legislature

Legislation to impose a “do not track” regulatory regime for online behavioral advertising has been introduced in the California State Senate.  We need your assistance to defeat this proposal.

Senate Bill 761 was introduced on March 24th by Senator Alan Lowenthal.  The bill would direct the California Attorney General, in consultation with the California Office of Privacy Protection, to develop a regulatory regime to require companies engaged in online behavioral advertising to provide consumers with notice and the ability to opt out of the collection and use of information for those purposes.  Any company that failed to comply with the regulations would be subject to civil penalties of up to $1,000 and possibly punitive damages.   SB761 is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on the bill for April 26th.

ANA will be providing testimony to the members of the Judiciary Committee in opposition to this legislation.  It would be very helpful if your company would also contact the members to express your opposition. 

We agree with the bill’s sponsor that consumers are entitled to notice about the collection of data for interest-based advertising and should have the ability to opt out of those practices.  However, we believe this can be best accomplished through strong, effective self-regulation rather than through government regulation.  ANA and other leading marketing associations launched a comprehensive new self-regulatory program for online behavioral advertising last October.  Information about the program is available at http://www.aboutads.info.

Consumers can go to that website today and opt-out of information collection for interest-based advertising.  We have encouraged all of our members to join this program, which covers the entire online ecosystem.  You can access our OBA toolkit here.

By imposing state-specific rules on information practices in a global medium, SB761 raises very serious interstate commerce concerns.  The bill is similar to the approach of legislation introduced in Congress by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-12/CA), the “Do Not Track Me Online Act” (H.R.654).   A government-imposed “Do Not Track” regime is a bad idea at the federal level and an even a worse idea at the state level where a checkerboard of inconsistent state regulation is almost certain to occur.  ANA and other industry groups filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in February describing our self-regulatory program and expressing our concerns about a Do Not Track regime. 

If you have any questions or comments about the California bill, please contact Dan Jaffe (djaffe@ana.net) or Keith Scarborough (kscarborough@ana.net) in ANA’s Washington, DC office at (202) 296-1883.

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