Top ad trade bodies push for clarity around California consumer privacy law
- Trade bodies the 4A's, ANA, IAB, AAF and NAI penned a letter to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra expressing concerns over the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) set to go into effect next year. The letter, which was shared with Marketing Dive, shows broad support of the CCPA, but asks for greater clarification on what the scope of "personal information" includes and signals a fear that services like loyalty programs could be eliminated due to the law's non-discrimination requirements.
- The CCPA grants consumers the right to request to view the data that businesses collect on them and for that data not to be sold. It imposes stricter rules around how businesses disclose their data collection practices and lets the state AG fine businesses for noncompliance. The letter urges that a written assurance of CCPA compliance is "sufficient and reasonable" when it comes to the sale of users' data. The CCPA prohibits the sale of data that businesses didn't get directly from the user, unless the user has been provided "explicit notice" and the chance to opt out.
- The law additionally lets consumers entirely opt out of the sale of their data and to delete their private information, but the trade bodies are pushing for more leeway, including an option where businesses provide consumers a choice to either opt out of or delete some of their data instead of an "all-or-nothing" approach. Lastly, the groups are requesting the AG clarify that businesses "do not need to create individualized privacy policies for each consumer to comply with the law."
The nation's biggest ad trade bodies — including some that occasionally spar with each other around other areas of their business — coming together to ask for more clarity around the CCPA shows that the California's law could be a game-changer for the entire industry as it grows increasingly anxious around the handling of user data.
In the letter, the groups take care to point out the significant role an ad-supported internet plays in boosting the U.S. economy and the successes that advertisers have had when it comes to self-regulation, including through initiatives like the Digital Advertising Alliance's YourAdChoices program. But the commentary and recommended changes to the specifics of the CCPA's language also shows that the law is an inevitability that the trade bodies want to ensure they're compliant with in order to avoid fines and to keep key services, such as loyalty programs, running as usual.
"Without clarification and adjustments, these and other ambiguities in the law could result in reduced choice and privacy for consumers, rather than expanding it, as the law intended," the letter reads. "We stand ready to work with you to find solutions to these and other issues as you prepare for its implementation."
While marketers have recently worked to ensure compliance with data privacy laws like the EU's GDPR, the CCPA seems to be stoking more concerns with U.S. advertisers since it's in some ways more stringent and could inspire other states to adopt similar bills, creating a compliance headache. The ANA late last year pressed the FTC for a more comprehensive federal law around consumer data in a bid to avoid myriad state laws. Apple CEO Tim Cook has made a similar call to action and pointed to GDPR as a model for the U.S. to look to as it tries to combat what he calls a "data industrial complex," a term that carries veiled swipes at rivals like Facebook and Google.
Though the ad trade bodies are making an effort to tout the successes of self-regulation, Facebook and Google, the two largest digital ad platforms, have frequently landed in hot water over their data practices, which has resulted in the current uptick in regulatory scrutiny. Google was slapped with a fine of 50 million euros earlier this month by the French data protection authority CNIL for running afoul of GDPR in what made for the largest financial penalty yet doled out under the law. Facebook is also facing a potentially record-setting fine from the FTC if it's proven that the social network violated a consent decree with the agency, an issue receiving fresh scrutiny in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
As data privacy controversies have piled up around the duopoly, advertisers have amplified calls to collectively clean up the digital media supply chain, but haven't appeared to make any significant changes to their ad spending on the same platforms creating transparency issues. In earnings reported earlier this week, Facebook said its ad revenue surged 38% to $55 billion in 2018, which tamped down speculations that crises like Cambridge Analytica seriously affected its business.
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