CHC, Other Industry Leaders Warn Congress That New Laws Could Thwart Progress of Voluntary Privacy Programs

March 8, 2012 – Fifteen trade associations – including the Coalition for Healthcare Communication – sent a letter to Congressional leaders this week asking them to hold off on pursuing consumer privacy legislation while industry-led self-regulatory program efforts take hold.

Because these efforts are an efficient and effective way to protect consumer privacy interests, the groups are concerned that new legislation “could undermine future efforts for successful voluntary practices,” according to the Industry Letter to Leadership re Privacy Legislation, which was delivered to all members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees.

“Contrary to many press reports, the industry opposes legislation at this time. Instead, Congress should acknowledge that industry self-regulation is working and give the process time to take root,” said Coalition for Healthcare Communication Executive Director John Kamp. “Even though industry needs to do more to fully engage Web stakeholders, early efforts are very promising. Voluntary, collaborative self-regulation is far superior to government regulation.”

The trade association letter stresses that voluntary codes of conduct, unlike government regulation or legislation, “can adapt in a timely manner to shifting technologies, business models, and consumer expectations.”

Indeed, in February, the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) and its members were praised by White House, Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission officials for their efforts, which include the DAA’s Self-regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising and

“Your Ad Choices” public education advertising campaign.

Voluntary programs, the industry groups contend, also can address privacy concerns “without interfering with innovation, which benefits consumers by delivering paychecks, savings, and exciting products and services.” These programs, they conclude, are “the ideal way to balance privacy and innovation.”

Meanwhile, Kamp implores industry members “to get on board with voluntary programs today to help prove industry’s commitment to consumer privacy, because legislation will come in the absence of robust industry participation.”

In addition to the Coalition, associations signing the letter include: American Advertising Federation, American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Business Media, Association of National Advertisers, Consumer Electronics Association, Direct Marketing Association, Financial Services Roundtable, Interactive Advertising Bureau, National Retail Federation, NetChoice, Online Publishers Association, Performance Marketing Association, Toy Industry Association, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.