Top Issue of Early 2015: Privacy and Data Security

January 28, 2015

There is now no question that, as we earlier predicted in this blog, data security and privacy are the preeminent issues in the minds of many in Congress, at federal agencies, in state legislatures, and in the media one month into 2015. With the release of a new FTC Internet of Things report and a lively hearing on data security legislation taking place just yesterday, it is clear that this area has heated up substantially.

In honor of today’s Data Privacy Day, here are two important privacy and data security developments that ANA is actively monitoring.

Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Peter Welch (D-VT) are working on a privacy bill that they plan to introduce in the coming weeks. According to Blackburn, the aim of the bill is to outline “the responsibility that retailers have to educate consumers on how to protect their data.” The sponsors state that they have the support of Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Rep. Michael Burgess, head of the committee’s panel on commerce, manufacturing, and trade. ANA is watching closely for this bill in order to determine what implications it could have for advertisers.

Also, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the new chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced a full committee hearing on the Internet of Things to take place on Wednesday, February 11, 2015. This hearing will focus on how devices will be made smarter and more dynamic through internet technologies and will most likely provide a follow-up to the recently released FTC report. Chairman Thune stated, “Standing on the cusp of technological innovations that will improve both the safety and convenience of everyday items, we shouldn’t let government needlessly slow the pace of new development. By engaging early in this debate, Congress can ensure that any government efforts to protect consumers are tailored for actual problems and avoid regulatory overreach." This statement from Chairman Thune signals a growing effort in the Congress to balance carefully the need to foster the continued explosive growth of internet and mobile innovation fueled by more effective use of data and targeted marketing with the continued need for strong privacy protection. The ANA through the Digital Advertising Alliance, working with our association partners, is diligently attempting to see that consumers’ privacy needs are being protected in the new marketing universe.

These House and Senate initiatives are just two of several significant initiatives happening right now in the privacy arena. As these and other new developments become more concrete, we will update members and fight to ensure that advertising can continue to serve consumers in an efficient, personalized, and safe manner.

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