The IAB Can’t Say the Word “Privacy” Before the U.S. Congress

On Wednesday, IAB president Randall Rothenberg testified before a House Small Business subcommittee. Incredibly, the written testimony failed to mention privacy. Nor did the testimony really convey the nature of interactive advertising today. We will be contacting the subcommittee to set the record straight. And the IAB has to do some serious soul-searching. As more people become informed about the data collection and targeting practices underlying digital marketing, they will expect that companies doing business online are engaged in ethical data collection practices. This will be especially true when it comes to protecting the privacy and consumer welfare of children and teens.

PS: This excerpt from Mr. Rothenberg’s testimony is another illustration of how out of touch the IAB has become. They can’t acknowledge the industry’s problems and offer reasonable solutions. The IAB is also going to hurt small business, once customers learn how their privacy is threatened (and how online advertising raises medical and financial data issues, for example). Perhaps someone will come along offering responsible leadership on this issue for small business. They aren’t getting it from the IAB’s lobbying campaign. Once again, no one is saying there shouldn’t be online advertising. But we are saying that privacy has to be protected–where consumers are in charge of what is collected. And that some practices–including data collection and targeting of children and adolescents as well as sectors such as medical information–require safeguards. But the IAB’s leadership has decided to use the “Chicken Little, Our Data Won’t Be Falling” scare tactic.

“A small but vocal coterie of forces opposed generally to marketing, advertising, and open media markets is attempting to advocate to limit the technology responsible for this internet advertising revolution.

Although these advocacy groups have provided no evidence of public harm, their efforts have begun resulting in regulatory proposals which, if enacted, would severely hinder the ability of small publishers to support themselves with advertising sales, and impair the ability of small businesses to use interactive advertising to market themselves.”

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

Leave a Reply