digital-ad industry says that if it passes it could mean ‘Facebook won’t be free’
Tennessee Congresswoman Martha Blackburn says she wants to give consumers control of their internet experience.
She’s introduced a bill — the “BROWSER Act” — that would require internet users to actively opt in to say yes to any sort of ad tracking or online-data collection.
“Facebook won’t be free,” said Scott Howe, CEO of the data company Acxiom. Acxiom collects consumer data on millions of Americans — where they live and the kinds of things they shop for — that marketers and media companies use to target consumers and deliver more-relevant ads. So it’s looking out for any legislation in this realm closely.
BROWSER stands for “Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly.” It could become the latest skirmish in a never-ending conflict between privacy advocates and businesses that offer access to their websites at no charge.
Though others, like Jason Kint, CEO of the web publisher trade group Digital Content Next, see scare tactics at work.
Acxiom is working with organizations like the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Data and Marketing Association to make its case with legislators.
That includes questioning Blackburn’s motives. Sheila Colclasure, Acxiom’s chief privacy officer, said she thinks the bill is a response to backlash Blackburn faced after she voted to kill an Obama administration ruling that would have required telecom companies to seek permission from consumers before sharing web-browsing and identity data with advertisers.
Blackburn’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Since that law was struck down, articles like The Verge’s “The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs, and how much it cost to buy them” turned up the heat on members of Congress. Blackburn is among a handful who were targeted by billboards calling her out on the vote.