In January, President Obama called on senior government officials to lead a review of the implications of Big Data for privacy, the economy and public policy. A Federal Register Notice by the White House’s Science and Technology Policy Office sought comments from industry participants on a variety of issues related to Big Data. Earlier this week, the ANA submitted its comments in response to the Notice, focusing on the public policy implications of the collection, storage, analysis, and use of Big Data. In determining what the potential concerns of Big Data are, the ANA said that the focus should be on the sensitivity and potential vulnerability to harm of the data, not the amount of data in and of itself. As an example, the ANA pointed out that, “[c]ommercial privacy issues must not be allowed to be conflated with government surveillance and potential reforms at the NSA. These issues must not be confused with interest-based advertising or online behavioral advertising (OBA).” The ANA also urged that any governmental decisions about commercial data collection and use be made “carefully, correctly and judiciously.” In its comments, the ANA highlighted the progress made over the past few years by the private sector to enhance privacy protections for consumers, making specific reference to the self-regulatory efforts by the Digital Advertising Alliance. To view the ANA’s submission in full, please click here.

Why This Matters: The ANA’s views are shared by many in the advertising industry. Whatever measures (if any) the government takes in this space should be commensurate with the type of data at issue and in coordination with the ongoing efforts by the private sector to develop self-regulatory solutions.