Last month, IAB’s Board of Directors met in Washington, D.C. for a day of conversations with key members of Congress, federal agency officials, and top administration representatives.
Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) briefed the board on the current political landscape regarding a potential federal privacy standard, while Diane Rinaldo, acting administrator of the key administration office handling digital privacy, went through the Department of Commerce’s “Request for Comment” on how an increased online federal privacy regime could take shape.
FTC Commissioner Noah Phillips discussed what additional funding and enforcement authority could mean to the Federal Trade Commission, and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy walked the audience through the political possibilities of a privacy bill moving through the Congress, and onto the House and Senate floors for consideration.
IAB Board members were given a rare, inside look at the moving parts and viewpoints behind the policy discussions in D.C., and the forces pushing against a preemptive federal standard. From these conversations, a few key themes emerged:
- Digital advertising is increasingly becoming a regulated industry with greater scrutiny of how data is collected and used, and greater penalties for non-compliance. While members of Congress and the Administration continue to debate the details of a comprehensive federal privacy law, all trend lines point towards greater regulation. Recognizing the inevitability of new federal privacy regulation, our guest speakers encouraged IAB member companies to get more heavily involved in shaping this legislation by speaking with their representatives about how their businesses work.
- Data Privacy is not a partisan issue. Our Republican and Democratic guest speakers shared the opinion that consumers need greater transparency and control over their data, including in the digital advertising context. Importantly, this issue is emerging as a legislative priority for members on both sides of the aisle with widespread public demand for more privacy.
- The timeline for passing federal privacy legislation remains uncertain. Our guest speakers admitted that passing a comprehensive federal privacy bill is a challenging task that requires thoughtful consideration and broad stakeholder input. They opined that passing legislation of this magnitude before the 2020 election would require significant effort. As a result, IAB member companies must be prepared to comply with the numerous state privacy laws, such as California and Nevada, that will likely go into effect before a federal privacy bill is signed into law.
IAB is working to help our member companies navigate this new regulatory reality. Our State Privacy Working Group is advocating on behalf of our members across all 50 states, with particular focus in California. Our Legal Affairs Council and Tech Lab are building a compliance framework to help our members comply with a patchwork of state laws and better understand new compliance obligations. Our Public Policy Council is crafting federal legislative proposals to help inform conversations in Congress. I encourage all IAB members to get more involved in IAB’s legal and policy work, and to contact me for more information.
IAB thanks our guest speakers for their stimulating contributions to our meeting.