On the Hill: In Service to Our Association Partners

Twice in 2014, DAA testified before Congressional hearings – once in a fact-finding hearing on malware and spyware before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and again during a hearing on location privacy legislation sponsored by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN, pictured with DAA’s Lou Mastria) before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.

Regarding the first hearing, suffice it to say that cybersecurity, malware and its impact on advertising are all issues that concern both consumers and the ad business. Fraud victimizes businesses as well as consumers – and advertisers share with consumers an interest in seeing fraud isolated and prevented. I was joined on panel with Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, of the Federal Trade Commission. (Side Note: DAA will be joining a panel with Maneesha and CBBB’s Genie Barton at the International Association of Privacy Professionals’ Global Privacy Summit in March 2015.)

Yet – as security and malware was the focus of the hearing – we truly believe it is necessary to provide the benefits of online advertising to consumers, business, and our economy. While citing recent research from our own study this year, and that from the Data-Driven Marketing Institute, we also said:

“Because of advertising, consumers can access a wealth of online resources at low or no cost. Revenue from online advertising enables e-commerce and subsidizes the cost of content and services that consumers value, such as online newspapers, blogs, social networking sites, mobile applications, email, and phone services. These advertising-supported revenues have transformed daily lives.

“Interest-based advertising is essential to the online advertising model. Interest-based advertising is delivered based on consumer preferences or interests inferred from data about online activities. ...Consumers are likely to find interest-based advertising more relevant to them, and advertisers are more likely to attract consumers that want their products and services.

“Interest-based advertising is especially vital for small businesses because it is efficient. Smaller advertisers can stretch their marketing budgets to reach consumers who may be interested in their offerings. Smaller website publishers that cannot afford to employ sales personnel to sell their advertising space, and may be less attractive to large brand-name advertising campaigns, can increase their revenue by featuring advertising that is more relevant to their users. In turn, advertising-supported resources help other small businesses to grow. Small businesses can use free or low-cost online tools, such as travel booking, long-distance calling, and networking services, to help them run their companies.”

In the second hearing, we described how industry has acted to address the collection and use of location data for commercial purposes. We stated that DAA Principles and our guidance for adherence on mobile platforms (which was released in 2013) require companies to obtain consent before collecting and transferring precise location data from individuals, and that users be able to revoke that consent at any time. We believe the DAA program is a living example of how issues like location data can be addressed through a self-regulatory framework while still allowing for innovation and the ad-funded support of content and services we all enjoy in the multi-screen world.

In our testimony, we stated: “We believe the DAA is a model example of how interested stakeholders can collaborate across the ecosystem to provide meaningful and pragmatic solutions to complex privacy issues, especially in areas as highly dynamic and evolving as mobile advertising.”

DAA continues to aid our association partners – where data collection and interest-based advertising are present – to help inform lawmakers and regulators, and stand ready at fact-finding when legislative proposals and policy discussions are the order of the day on the Hill.

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