How the promoting business is lobbying the corridors of energy

The prospect of a new Biden government alongside the reshaped composition of both chambers of Congress makes marketing leaders ponder what the next four years will mean for them.

The mainstream media has focused on how President-elect Joe Biden will tame Big Tech. It is widely expected that antitrust law will be more stringent and that mergers and acquisitions in this sector can be blocked. For now, however, the more general concern of media practitioners is how to approach privacy issues.

Industry leaders are examining exactly how more active monitoring of large companies – especially online advertisers – affects the collection, mining, and trading of consumer data. The Interactive Advertising Bureau is moderating such discussions at its annual Policy Summit this week.

Proponents of the industry want to keep policymakers away from a patchwork of state data protection laws. A prime example of this legal mess is the recently passed California ballot CPRA or CCPA 2.0. The prospect of similar versions of this law being replicated by other states is a logistical nightmare for the online advertising industry – not to mention an incredibly complex legal minefield.

Instead, they are trying to campaign for a national data protection law through initiatives like Privacy for America, a coalition-led trade organization like 4A, ANA and IAB.

The group has already prepared a 50-page proposal. The draft was submitted to the representatives of Congress for consideration in the current composition of the Chamber. Several sources expressed the hope that the proposals will be implemented and legally implemented in the near future.

Regaining previous momentum

Dave Grimaldi, IAB evp, Public Policy, told Adweek that at the beginning of 2020, Congress had given significant impetus for the drafting of a federal data protection law. However, these efforts have stalled as the Covid-19 pandemic had priority.

Scott Sullivan, CRO at Adswerve and former head of Google Marketing Platforms, pointed out that eight states have now introduced separate privacy laws (with different provisions). This scenario is likely to prove confusing for both industry and consumer advocates.

He expects this situation to be resolved and predicts that the future Biden administration will seek to guide policy across the union. "We can realistically expect the Biden government to present a bill for a national GDPR-like policy in 2021," he added.

Grimaldi went on to speak of his hope that last year's momentum will pick up with the appropriate hearings of the subcommittee and full committees by the second quarter of 2021.

"I hope that the White House will do a lot of work on online privacy and data protection and lead the new national dialogue about it and call on Congress to work out, introduce and pass laws for national data protection," he told Adweek.

Considered ideas?

Several attendees at this week's IAB Policy Summit voiced concerns about how data security concerns, such as foreign government hacks, conflict with the way more honest actors use consumer data.

Liz Oesterle, vice president of government affairs at Experian, said incidents like the 2017 cyberattack that suffered her employer's sister company Equifax are an obstacle to trying to improve the way politicians think about consumer data.

"These types of encroachments can get the privacy debate completely out of hand," she said, adding that educating key stakeholders on Capitol Hill is critical to realizing the ambitions of a national law.

"Obviously, knowing who will have the hammer in the Senate is a little early," added Oesterle. "And there might be a little change in terms of the faces on (key) committees, especially the Senate Commerce Committee … but there will be a re-education that needs to be done there as there are many new members from Congress."

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