Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President–Government Affairs
AAF Comments to FCC
AAF has joined with a broad group of industry allies to comment on the Federal Communications Commission Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on privacy issues. If adopted, the NPRM would insert the FCC into an area of regulation that has largely been the province of the Federal Trade Commission.
The comments argue the FCC has not established any harm that is being addressed by the regulations, and that the regulations would likely be harmful to both consumers and businesses. They also explain the effectiveness of the AAF-supported Digital Advertising Alliance self-regulatory program (as do more extensive comments from the DAA), and assert that the FCC has overstepped its authority by wading into this area.
On a more specific level, the comments challenge the Commission’s definition of personally identifiable information, the reliance on an opt-in standard and the rules for affiliate sharing.
Earlier in the month, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard from both the FCC and the FTC Commissioners about each’s respective approach to privacy at a hearing examining the NPRM. The AAF and many of its allies wrote to Committee leadership expressing concerns with the FCC’s proposal.
In a related development, the Federal Trade Commission has scheduled a workshop forSeptember 15 to examine “the testing and evaluation of disclosures that companies make to consumers about advertising claims, privacy practices and other information.”
Ad Coalition Comments to FDA
The Advertising Coalition, a group supported by the AAF, has filed comments with U.S. Food and Drug Administration on a proposal, “Animation in Direct-to-Consumer Advertising,” to collect information and conduct research. The agency wants to examine how animation affects the comprehension of direct-to-consumer (DTC) television advertisements for prescription drugs. The Coalition agrees that these are important issues to examine, but cautions the FDA “to be mindful of the breadth of the protection that the U.S. Supreme Court has offered to advertising.”
Senator Asks FTC to Investigate Outdoor Company
Senator Chuck Schumer, D-New York, asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate a practice by Clear Channel Outdoor that uses data from mobile phones to track travel patterns and behavior. The Senator expressed concerns about users’ privacy and asked the Commission to make sure the company’s policies do not violate the law. Clear Channel says the data is anonymous and aggregated and is used to help advertisers determine where their billboards will be most effective.
Court Strikes Down TV Ownership Regs
The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently struck down Federal Communications Commission regulations further limiting the consolidation of television ownership in a single market and prohibiting joint sales agreements between broadcasters. The FCC has not completed its last two reviews of ownership regulations as directed by Congress. The Court ruled that, because the Commission has not recently justified why its current ownership rules are sound, it could not strengthen them.
Possible New Commercial Speech Threat
With the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes comes the threat of calls for ad bans of those products. In a recent blog post, e-Cigarette Advertising and Commercial Free Speech, the AAF explains why it will continue to defend the First Amendment right to truthfully advertise all legal products and services to appropriate audiences, no matter how unpopular the product or service may be.
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