In Response to Inquiry, DAA Informs State of Texas that a Thriving Internet Economy and Effective Privacy Protection Can and Must Co-Exist

September 16, 2020

Until a national data policy standard is enacted by Congress, we need to be vigilant educators of policymakers at all levels of government.

Last month, the Digital Advertising Alliance joined a coalition of trade organizations – all of which serve as our association Board – in providing an informational response to a State of Texas Privacy Protection Advisory Council inquiry. The DAA’s response focused on responsible data collection, digital advertising, privacy protection and related topics.

The Texas legislature previously had considered requiring consumers to “opt-in” for all data collection for a broad set of uses including advertising.

In replying to this state-level inquiry, DAA and its partners seek to be responsive, even as we remain proactive on the federal level with our work through the Privacy for America initiative (PfA). We believe PfA’s proposed framework would prevent the balkanization of the Internet economy, at least on a nationwide level, and also in a manner that could be modeled by other jurisdictions outside of the U.S. That debate and path forward, at the federal level, remains intact and in the purview of Congress. 

Data and Advertising’s Economic and Social Power

In our joint statement, we articulated the economic power of what we do, responsibly, in the world of advertising, every day:

“Data provides tremendous and undeniable benefits to consumers, businesses, and the economy-at-large. Every day, consumers’ lives are enriched by data-driven resources and advertising, including an unprecedented array of high-quality information, entertainment, and life-enhancing services. Advertising has helped power the growth of the economy and the Internet by delivering innovative tools and services for consumers and businesses to use to connect and communicate. In particular, the content and services consumers rely on and enjoy, including news, video, music, and more, are made possible in no small part due to data-driven digital advertising. The data-driven advertising model allows consumers to access these resources at little or no cost to them, and it has created an environment where small publishers and start-up companies can enter the marketplace to compete against the Internet’s largest players. The industry has also employed millions of individuals, serving as a job catalyst for every state in the United States. Legislation hindering the availability of data, exchanges of data, or data-driven advertising would adversely impact individuals and the business community alike.”

Furthermore, we voiced our concern with the challenges posed by a one-size-fits-all opt-in approach which would burden consumers, and called for stronger privacy protections, based on a determination of prohibited practices, which are a primary component of the Privacy for America framework:

“As the Texas legislature considers privacy bills in upcoming legislative sessions, we encourage authors and sponsors to carefully consider the impacts proposed legislation would have on consumers, the business community, and the economy. In particular, proposals that rely too heavily on opt-in consent for data collection unfairly shift the privacy burden to consumers themselves, who should not be tasked with deciphering data-sharing arrangements prior to reading digital content or downloading an app. Rather, consumers should be able to rely on strong data privacy protections, based on a clear set of prohibited practices. It is imperative to draw an effective distinction between what constitutes sensitive personal data, from the vast majority of data that drives digital advertising and poses less privacy risks. To date, no other state in our country has enacted a comprehensive data privacy law that requires consumers to opt in to business processing or uses of all personal information. We encourage Texas to reject calls for it to be the first state to adopt this overly restrictive approach to data privacy. This will ensure that the benefits data provides to Texans, businesses, and the economy can persevere through the trying times that presently face our nation and the world.”

Until a national data policy standard is enacted by Congress, we need to be vigilant educators of policymakers at all levels of government.  Continued adherence to DAA Principles, as self-regulatory guidance, and use of DAA consumer-choice tools will continue to serve as an important differentiator between acceptable and unacceptable practices as self- and co-regulation evolve.

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