Google to Host Online Ad Lobby as it Campaigns Against Privacy bill

Google is going to help the interactive ad lobby in its campaign to undermine privacy legislation.  The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) plans a DC lobbying blitz on June 14-15, bringing in its cadre of small publishers.   As the IAB explains, “our day of advocacy gets underway as you divide up into teams for individual meetings with members of Congress and their staffs. Each team will be assigned a “chaperone” to help you make your way around the Hill, as well as answer any questions you might have.”

The message the IAB reps will make will undoubtedly be that the Internet way of life as we know it will end if Rep. Boucher’s proposal–or most any other bill protecting privacy–is enacted.  Sort of the Internet meets the film 2012:  all that will be left, if the data stops flowing for targeting, will be a handful of digital survivors.  Google, which serves on the executive committee of the IAB board [along with Microsoft, NBCU, Disney, CBS], plays a key role in the lobbying plans.  The small publisher/lobbyists are to be “guests of honor at a special networking reception and dinner at the Google offices in Washington, D.C.”  Presumably, at the “Cocktail Reception & Dinner – Courtesy of Google,” the troops will be rallied to the `defeat the privacy bill’ cause.  A guest speaker at Google HQ for the event is the IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg.

I know Google uses its facilities to host many meetings;  I have had lunch there and a dinner once at events where Google was discussing its data collection practices.  But Google claims to want to see meaningful national privacy legislation.  Yet they are aiding and abetting the anti-online privacy lobby (which is also leading the effort to undermine the FTC’s role in consumer protection).  The irony here is that Google appears to have successfully convinced Mr. Boucher that its ad preference manager system should be the basis for a safe harbor in the bill.  But Google likely wants to facilitate weakening even Mr. Boucher’s proposal–hence the dinner, drinks and cheer leading that will no doubt be heard across to Capital Hill next month.

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.