AAF National Government Report

February 28, 2020

  • States Look at Taxing Advertising
  • Privacy Bills in the States
  • AAF and Privacy for America Push for Federal Privacy Law
States Look at Taxing AdvertisingMultiple states have considered ad taxes in their current legislative sessions.

In Maryland, the gross receipts tax on digital advertising is still alive in the Senate, and a House companion bill has also been introduced. The House bill is scheduled for a hearing February 28. AAF Baltimore President, Matt McDermott and Clark Rector, the AAF’s EVP of Government Affairs, both plan to testify in opposition.

Not content with targeting only digital advertising, other lawmakers in Maryland have introduced a bill that would reduce the sales tax rate but expand the tax to include many services, including advertising. One of the sponsors of the bill is the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee which will conduct a hearing on the measure March 2. Rector will be back in Annapolis to testify against the ad tax.

As expected, the Nebraska ad tax bills reported on in the last issue did not advance out of committee. Members of both AAF Omaha and AAF Lincoln wrote and called lawmakers in opposition.

Just North of Nebraska, legislation was introduced in South Dakota to remove the tax exemption for advertising services. Members of both AAF Black Hills and the South Dakota Advertising Federation were active in contacting lawmakers to oppose the bill. The measure was killed in committee and will not advance this year.

Privacy Bills in the StatesNumerous states are also looking to pass privacy legislation.

In Washington, the state Senate has already passed SB 6281 which deals with the management and oversight of personal data. While the AAF supports the state’s interest in protecting the privacy of its citizens, we believe a number of provisions in the bill would undermine privacy protections. The AAF and our partners have launched a website and written to the House committee addressing these issues. For example:

  • We oppose creating a private right of action. A private right of action could dramatically raise costs for Washington businesses, while creating inconsistent or contradictory regulatory requirements and failing to provide any meaningful privacy protections for consumers.
  • We oppose modifying the definition of the term “sale” to include any processing of personal data. Such a change to the definition would be so far-reaching that it would encompass virtually any processing of personal data, even in the absence of personal information transfers.

We have written to Hawaii lawmakers about HB 2572. This bill would require opt-in consent for any sale of geolocation information and “internet browser information,” defined as “information from a person’s use of the internet,” including web browsing history, application usage history, origin and destination IP addresses, device identifiers, and the content of communications comprising Internet activity. Left uncorrected, the bill would undermine the ad-supported Internet to the detriment of both consumers and advertisers.

We have also written once more to the California Attorney General’s office regarding the proposed regulations implementing the California Consumer Privacy Act. In addition to addressing some technical matters, we have urged the AG to delay the enforcement date of July 1, 2020 until January 2012 so that businesses will have adequate time to fully adapt to the new regulations.

AAF and Privacy for America Push for Federal Privacy LawAAF continues to work through Privacy for America to push for a comprehensive federal privacy law. The work has included developing comprehensive Principles for Privacy Legislation. We have met with numerous lawmakers and staff on both sides of Capitol Hill to explain our approach and emphasize the importance – for both consumers and businesses—of a single national standard for privacy versus a patchwork of inconsistent state laws. The Privacy for America website includes a series of blog posts examining in depth many of the specific issues addresses in the Principles.

Privacy for America will be hosting a National Privacy Summit and Fly-In March 24. Registration is free and open to all with an interest in advocating on this issue. For more information contact Privacy for America or Clark Rector, the AAF’s EVP of Government Affairs.

The AAF protects and promotes advertising at all levels of government through grassroots activities. Our nation-wide network monitors advertising-related legislation on local, state and federal levels. We put our members face-to-face with influential lawmakers while encouraging self-regulation as a preemptor to government intervention, when appropriate of course. To learn more about our advocacy efforts, click here.


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