AAF Government Report January/February 2023

February 3, 2023

With the new year comes a new Congress, new state legislative sessions and a renewed interest by all in pursuing possible new privacy laws.

State Privacy Update

In Washington state, legislation has been introduced to enact significant privacy protections for Washingtonian’s consumer health data. AAF agrees all consumers deserve appropriate privacy protections, especially about sensitive health information. However, as currently written, the bill is broad and would have unintended consequences, unnecessarily limiting Washington consumers from receiving information about many non-sensitive products and services they may desire. AAF, and local chapters AAF SeattleAAF Spokane and AAF Tri-Cities, submitted a letter to lawmakers expressing our concerns.

In Colorado, where legislation has passed, the state Attorney General’s office released a second draft of proposed regulations implementing the law. AAF, together with AAF Colorado and other allied trade associations, submitted comments suggesting changes to help ensure the regulations are consistent with the law, align as much as possible with other state approaches to privacy regulation, and are protective of consumers while remaining workable for businesses.

Virginia lawmakers are considering a bill that would address children’s privacy issues, including defining as a child any person younger than 18 years of age. AAF wrote lawmakers agreeing children deserve special protections but pointing out the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) already requires parental consent for many online processing activities associated with personal data collected from children under the age of 13 and the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA) acknowledges that companies in compliance with COPPA are also with VCDPA. Our letter also points out that raising the age of “children” to include teenagers would seriously impede Virginia teens ability to access the countless educational and informational resources on the Internet.

We are still early in the year and anticipate privacy and data security bills to be introduced and considered in many states. AAF will continue to work with our local members and allied associations to respond as appropriate in as timely a manner as possible.

Congress/Administration Look to Federal Privacy Laws

AAF is supportive of a federal privacy and data security law and is working with our partners in Privacy for America to encourage Congress to pass such a law. We believe consumers in every state are deserving of appropriate privacy protections and a certainty of standards nationwide will benefit not only consumers, but businesses and the economy as well. Unfortunately, much of the rhetoric surrounding the issue tends to demonize the industry and the use of data. AAF and our industry partners will work to ensure any new laws and regulations also recognize and encourage the many benefits of responsibly used data to consumers, businesses and the economy.

Despite the well-publicized disagreements between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, privacy and data security is an issue many members of both parties would like to address. Last summer, the House Energy and Commerce Committee for the first time passed a bi-partisan comprehensive privacy bill. While AAF believes the measure has some serious flaws, it shows the desire of lawmakers to act.

Momentum is growing for action in other parts of the Capitol as well. President Joe Biden recently called on Congress to come together “to hold Big Tech accountable.” Unfortunately, he called for what could be overly strict limitations on the use of personal data. Some members of his administration recognize the need for a national standard. Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications Information was recently quoted as saying, “Though some states have taken the lead on privacy protections, far too many in America lack baseline protections for their privacy and personal information. A national standard is a much better way to operate…Privacy rights shouldn’t change when you cross state lines.”

A recent report said that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is tentatively planning a June vote on legislation to protect children online. Last summer, AAF communicated with Senate Commerce Committee leaders expressing our support for a national, preemptive, comprehensive privacy law that strengthens protections for kids and teens within a broader privacy framework for all Americans.

Congressional Committee Members Announced

One of the first orders of business for a new Congress is to select members of Congressional Committees. While there is much continuity from Congress to Congress, retirements, new members and a change in party control lead to changes, and new members on the committees of interest to educate about the value of the advertising industry.

The new Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction concerning tax matters, is Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO). Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), the former Chair, is now the Ranking Minority Member. A full list committee members can be found here.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is the new Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction with most non-tax advertising issues, including privacy and data security. The former Chair, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), is now the Ranking Minority Member. A full list of committee members can be found here.

As of this writing, membership of Senate Committees have not been finalized.

AAF Advertising Day on the Hill 2023

AAF’s Advertising Day on the Hill will be held in Washington, DC, Thursday, March 23, and registration is open for this important and exciting event.

AAF is effective as a grassroots organization because of the active participation of our local members in the many policy issues that affect advertising—such as those discussed above. Advertising Day on the Hill brings our grassroots together in Washington, DC, to learn about issues from policy experts, and then take the message to Capitol Hill to educate their Senators and Representatives about our views, and the importance of advertising to the economy of their states and districts. Given AAF’s charge to protect and defend advertising, Advertising Day on the Hill is among our most important events.

The program is coming together. Already confirmed speakers include,

More speakers will be announced soon.

room block has been set aside for attendees. We urge you to register now for AAF’s Advertising Day on the Hill.


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