ANA Opposes Broadband Internet Privacy Bill in California State Legislature

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) today strongly urged members of the California Senate to oppose an onerous broadband privacy bill that is pending there. AB375, the California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, threatens to seriously disrupt Internet advertising by classifying virtually all ISP communication, including web browsing history, as personally identifiable and creating the need for vast amounts of opt-in consent for companies to collect and use this data. ANA’s letter states that the legislation is “completely unnecessary and would be counterproductive to the entire online ecosystem.”

A hearing on AB375 has been scheduled for July 17th in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee. The bill also has been referred to the Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Each of those committees will have a hearing on the bill in the next several days and ANA has submitted our comments to those committees as well.       

“This bill goes even beyond the ISP privacy rule that was adopted by the FCC last October and repealed by the Congress this spring,” said Dan Jaffe, Group Executive Vice President of Government Relations for ANA. “Due to California’s enormous impact on the U.S. economy, this bill would create broad adverse precedents, balkanize privacy regulation and have immediate harmful marketplace impacts.”  

Jaffe stated: “While the Congressional repeal of the FCC’s broadband privacy rule may be controversial, it did not create any gap in protection for consumers in the online marketplace. The FCC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) both have jurisdiction over privacy practices of the business community. AB375 would mandate opt-in consent for all kinds of data not traditionally subject to this treatment. This approach would treat a person’s medical history in the same way as information about her pizza topping preferences. That makes absolutely no sense.”   

Jaffe concluded: “This bill would upend over a decade of privacy precedent carefully developed by the FTC and self-regulatory groups like the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), which carefully distinguish the treatment of sensitive and non-sensitive information. It would be bad for consumers and subject them to annoying and unnecessary notices requiring opt-in consent whenever they search online.”