“Surveillance” is a loaded term, but it’s on the lips of regulators who are working to restrict targeted advertising online on both sides of the Atlantic.
On Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers in the US led by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), introduced the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act (BSAA), which would outright prohibit advertisers from targeting ads to consumers with a few exceptions, including contextual targeting or broad-based geotargeting.
This isn’t Eshoo’s first rodeo. Eshoo, who represents California’s 18th Congressional District – the heart of Silicon Valley – was also a co-sponsor of the Online Privacy Act, a now-stalled bill introduced in 2019 that would require explicit consent to disclose or sell personal information and would have created GDPR-inspired user data rights.
Unsurprisingly, the ad industry isn’t a fan of the BSAA. (“This terrible bill would disenfranchise businesses that advertise on the Internet,” IAB CEO David Cohen declared in a statement).
Meanwhile, over in Brussels late on Wednesday, European lawmakers voted to support amendments that would greatly restrict behavioral advertising as part of the Digital Services Act (DSA), a piece of proposed legislation looking to tackle harmful content online and make platforms accountable for algorithmic distribution.
IAB Europe argues that the DSA could undermine existing consumer laws, including the General Data Protection Regulation, in large part because it overlaps with them.
But back in the US, although it’s unlikely that a federal privacy law will pass this year, the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act could be another not-so-baby step toward an eventual national privacy law. The question is, how strict will that law be when it finally arrives?
We polled the industry: The headwinds seem to be blowing, but is it even practical – or technically feasible – to outright ban targeted advertising?
- Alison Pepper, EVP of government relations, 4A's
- Lartease Tiffith, EVP of public policy, IAB
- Stephanie Vandenberg, SVP of revenue, Verve Group
- Stephanie Klimazewski, SVP of marketing, Aki Technologies
- Michele Szabocsik, VP of marketing, BlueConic
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