Summit Snapshot: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky Calls for Comprehensive Federal Privacy Legislation and Asks for Industry Support

September 18, 2023

Big Idea: In a recent address at Digital Advertising Alliance Summit 23: [AD]vance, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, the representative of Illinois' Ninth Congressional District, emphasized the urgent need for a comprehensive federal privacy law. We concur.

We were excited to have a perspective from Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) at our Summit in Chicago. The Congresswoman’s address was introduced by Stu Ingis, chairman, Venable LLP, and general counsel to DAA.

DAA Summit 23 delegates heard remarks of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) regarding a balance of protections for both consumers and the ad industry.

As the Ranking Member and Chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee responsible for data privacy, Congresswoman Schakowsky highlighted the successful bipartisan passage in the House Commerce Committee last year of The American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA), and stressed the importance of a unified national approach to safeguarding consumer data.

DAA agrees on the need for one set of legal rules for data governance for advertising in the United States, not 50 plus one, though ADPPA had fatal flaws that we believe must be addressed.

One area for improving a national privacy law would be to create a path for the DAA Principles for transparency and consumer control to co-exist with such a legal regime – precisely because consumer trust and engagement depend on far more than just legal adherence. And responsible advertisers have a longstanding pedigree in getting this balance right, as well as a future need to continue to get this right if they want consumer engagement to continue.

Protecting Consumers' Privacy: Consistency and Clarity Needed

In her remarks, Rep. Schakowsky emphasized that individuals increasingly desire robust data protection. With various states enacting their own privacy acts, she advocated for a comprehensive federal law that would provide consistency and clarity across the country. Schakowsky stated a belief that enacting federal legislation is crucial to meeting consumer demands, especially to protect children, and ensuring consumer privacy in the digital age.

“I’m really grateful that the Digital Advertising Alliance invited me to speak to you,” she said. “I want to assure you that you will be able to innovate, that you will be able to advertise in ways that are going to continue to be extremely successful. The goal of this legislation is not to harm advertisers. It is to make sure that the private information of consumers is protected.”

Balancing Privacy and Innovation: A Win-Win Necessity

Schakowsky recognized that advertisers need the flexibility to continue innovating and engaging with their target audiences successfully. By enacting a comprehensive privacy law, the United States can better thrive in a global market and protect consumer rights -- without hindering the responsible advertising industry’s growth. She called on the ad industry to help push through a federal bill sooner than later.

“I want to say that I would appreciate your help to unstick legislation, to work with you to get comprehensive privacy legislation passed right now so that consumers are not in limbo any longer,” Rep. Schakowsky said. “Brands, agencies, and publishers will be, can be, at the front of the innovation. We’d really like to push it over the finish line, and we’d like to do it with you.”

What’s Next – Will Passage Happen?

DAA General Counsel Stu Ingis provided valuable insights into the current state of affairs and the prospects for passing a U.S. comprehensive privacy law, noting present-day challenges in attempts to revise ADPPA’s draft or enable a comparable substitute.

As a founding part of the Privacy for America initiative, DAA is dedicated to passage of a pragmatic outcome that delivers the kind of balance Rep. Schakowsky referenced in her remarks.

All the same, Ingis said he believes Democrats and Republicans – which generally have been divided regarding preemption of state law and private rights of action – are closer to seeking a balance on that issue – as long as benefits for fair data usage for advertising are recognized, and protections are secured.  There’s a wide coalition of businesses calling for such an outcome, Ingis said.

DAA General Counsel Stu Ingis, chairman of Venable LLP, addresses DAA Summit 23 delegates on the outlook for federal legislation regarding privacy, following Rep. Schakowsky’s remarks.

The FTC continues to be very aggressive in trying to push protections, probably in part from the absence of federal law or standards,” Ingis said, underlying further impetus for a single U.S. law, while noting that how the FTC expends its funds, especially on privacy, is a hot topic. “There are a lot of forums where this is all being played out at the federal level and elsewhere. So it's going to be interesting, I think, for a year and a half leading up to the election and then certainly beyond that.”

A Continued Role of Self-Regulation and Industry Engagement

Ingis discussed the importance of self-regulation within the industry, citing the existing standards and initiatives, among them DAA Principles. He called for continued efforts to push forward responsible legislation that, in part, preserve a role for effective self-regulation.

We are confident, too, that in collaboration with all stakeholders, the right policy will result -- even if it has to come in fits and starts.


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