The drama surrounding the Federal Communications Commission's privacy rules continues.
Part of an Order passed last year along party lines under former Chairman Tom Wheeler, the rule established privacy regulations that required Internet service providers to obtain opt-in consent before sensitive data (defined to include browsing and app usage history) can be collected and used for ad targeting purposes.
Just days before the controversial rule was set to take effect, the agency voted two-to-one to issue a stay. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Az.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) then introduced joint resolutions that would invalidate the privacy rule pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA).
Longtime critics of the rule, a coalition of ad groups—the American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Data & Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and Network Advertising Initiative—threw their support behind the resolutions.
"We wholeheartedly commend Senator Flake and Congressman Blackburn, and their Senate and House colleagues, for introducing resolutions of disapproval for the FCC's ill-considered move to create a new, costly, counterproductive, confusing and unnecessary regulatory regime around privacy for broadband providers," the groups said in a statement. "Without prompt action in Congress or at the FCC, the FCC's regulations would break with well-accepted and functioning industry practices, chilling innovation and hurting the consumers the regulation was supposed to protect."
Association of National Advertisers executive vice president Dan Jaffe told MediaPost that the groups intend to lobby in Washington, D.C. in support of the resolutions. "We think this is one of the worst rules that has been put forward in some time," he said. "One way or another, it needs to be stopped."
To read the Senate resolution, click here.
Why it matters: The groups "strongly urge[d] Congress to support and quickly act" on the joint resolutions, but the CRA only provides 60 legislative days after the regulations are approved to effectuate a repeal. Under that timeline, the legislature must act by mid-May. Not taking any chances, the industry also continued fighting the rule at the FCC itself by filing a reply to the oppositions for the petition that urged the Commission to reconsider the rule. The same collection of ad groups argued that the rule failed to align with the FTC's privacy approach and that the Order was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. "The creation, analysis, and transfer of consumer data for marketing purposes constitutes speech," the groups wrote. "Non-misleading commercial speech regarding a lawful activity is protected under the First Amendment."