ANA Calls for Rejection of the FCC’s Online Privacy and Data Security Proposal

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) today filed reply comments expressing its continued strong opposition to a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would impose onerous, sweeping new opt-in privacy requirements on broadband internet service providers (ISPs).

ANA pointed to the broad range of expert commenters whose evidence clearly corroborates that the agency’s “proposed FCC privacy rules represent a dramatic and counterproductive expansion of the Commission’s jurisdiction over privacy matters that would severely harm consumers.” 

“After reviewing the thousands of comments in the record it continues to be clear that the FCC’s proposal would be damaging to the entire online advertising ecosystem,” said Dan Jaffe, Group Executive Vice President of Government Relations for ANA. “This massive attempted regulatory overreach by the FCC will confront consumers with an avalanche of annoying and unhelpful advertising and breach notices. These rules are unnecessary because existing privacy self-regulatory programs such as those carried out by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) are working well and already provide consumer transparency, notice and choice for interest-based advertising.”

ANA’s comments pointed out that noted economics experts, Joshua Wright, a former Federal Trade Commissioner, and Professor Howard Beales from the George Washington University School of Business both share ANA’s view that the FCC’s proposal would lead to significantly increased costs for consumers. In addition, renowned constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, and numerous other experts, agree that the FCC’s proposal violates the First Amendment commercial speech rights of ISPs and other internet marketers.

ANA stated that a careful examination of the record in this proceeding continues to demonstrate that the FCC proposal:

  • Radically diverges from longstanding national and international privacy practices by failing to adequately distinguish between sensitive and non-sensitive data;
  • Attempts to create a bifurcated privacy regulatory regime that illogically treats identical non-sensitive data completely differently;
  • Threatens to severely burden consumers, business and the U.S. economy by creating a barrage of opt-in notices and data breach alerts that will create significant “notice fatigue;”
  • Undermines the ability of advertisers to effectively reach consumers with information that is relevant to their interests; and
  • Violates the Constitution and does not fulfill FCC public interest obligations.

Additionally, ANA believes the excessively rapid data security breach notifications required by the FCC’s proposal are overly broad and unreasonable, and would undermine the ability of business and law enforcement organizations to respond effectively to such threats.

“The FCC should not attempt to fix something which is not broken,” said Jaffe. “The industry has designed strong privacy self-regulatory programs, buttressed with enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general. This is an effective framework that provides consumers with the ability to control how information about them is collected and used. The FCC’s proposal would not only fail to serve the public interest, but would in fact harm it by burdening consumers and businesses.”

Data shows that digital advertising, including interest-based advertising, is a growth powerhouse that supports much of the freely available content online.