June 15, 2012 – The Coalition for Healthcare Communication joined other major marketing trade groups asking the Senate Committee on Appropriations to “delete” a directive from the Financial Services
and General Government Subcommittee which would mandate that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issue consumer best practices for protecting personal information over wireless networks, among other privacy action steps.
“Hats off to the leading industry lobbyists who discovered this ‘stealth’ piece of legislative language and enabled industry to interpose a timely objection,” said Coalition Executive Director John Kamp. The letter was signed by several organizations in addition to the Coalition, including the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Direct Marketing Association, the Association of National Advertisers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
In a June 14 letter to Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Appropriations Vice Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), the groups state that this directive, which was passed for inclusion in the FY 2013 general appropriations bill by the Subcommittee “without input from the committees with jurisdiction over the FTC and FCC, … is unnecessary and could have significant and negative impacts on the affected industries and American commerce generally.”
“At least two Senators have already noted the industry letter in subsequent debates and we are optimistic the language will be omitted,” Kamp noted. “Although we recognize that privacy is a critical best price viagra issue for both consumers and industry, such regulation must be carefully drafted to enable a vigorous Internet marketplace and to enable citizens to protect legitimate privacy interests,” he said.
Specifically, the signatories to the letter assert that the Subcommittee is trying to enact legislation through the “back door” of an appropriations bill, that the committees of jurisdiction have not held hearings or approved legislation in this area, and that any new legislation regarding the complex issue of consumer privacy should be fully deliberated by Congress. Allowing the provision to be included would not give industry and consumer stakeholders any opportunity to provide their views, the letter states.
The groups also argue that consumer privacy already is protected by existing consumer protection laws and industry self-regulation, and that federal initiatives – from both the White House and the FTC – have proposed other methods for addressing mobile privacy.
Further, “the White House and the FTC have specifically recognized the merits of industry self-regulation for addressing consumer privacy concerns in rapidly evolving markets and technologies,” the letter states. Such self-regulation efforts to protect consumers’ privacy online include the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Self-regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising and its “Your Ad Choices” public education advertising campaign. For more information, see http://www.cohealthcom.org/2012/03/28/ftc-to-industry-adopt-consumer-privacy-best-practices-now/
“Self-regulation can address privacy concerns without interfering with innovation, which benefits consumers by delivering paychecks, savings, and exciting products and services,” according to the letter. “In contrast, new regulatory restrictions could stop innovation, slow economic growth, reduce benefits for consumers, and result in job losses.”
As such, the groups ask that the directive be removed from the legislation and that “no funds appropriated in the bill … be used by the FCC or FTC to draft new privacy guidelines that have no statutory foundation and could harm American companies and consumers.”