CA Privacy Bill Needs to be Stopped

ANA and our partners across the advertising industry are fighting to stop an onerous, counterproductive broadband privacy bill which is pending in the California State Legislature. AB 375, 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 opt-in consent for the collection of this data. All advertisers that use this type of data to target advertisements to consumers online will be affected. Due to California’s enormous impact on the U.S. economy, this legislation would create broad adverse precedents and have immediate harmful marketplace impacts.

The current version of the bill was released late last week and is a substantial revision of the earlier bill, which was approved by two Senate committees. These new changes do not reflect the commitment of the committees to replicate into California law the former FCC broadband privacy rules. The latest amendments to the bill, while a well-intentioned effort to reflect the rules, completely miss key clarifications in the 219-page FCC Report and Order that were part of the FCC’s action. The FCC’s Final Rules were controversial and conflicted seriously both with the Obama White House’s 2012 Privacy Report and the position of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding appropriate privacy policy. Without the clarifications in the Report and Order, the Rules would never have been adopted and would have been indefensibly overbroad, as AB 375 as amended is today.

There are only a couple of weeks left in the legislative session, and because this bill raises many serious concerns for both consumers and companies, it clearly deserves extremely careful consideration and must not be rushed through the state Senate.

ANA is a member of the California Chamber of Commerce and the State Privacy & Security Coalition and we are actively working to defeat this bill. AB 375 is pending before the Senate Rules Committee, which will decide very quickly whether to refer the bill to the full Senate, refer it to another committee for a hearing, or hold the bill. We have written to the committee urging them to take no immediate action on the bill and we are hopeful that our members and all companies that advertise their products and services online will do the same.