The Banning Surveillance Advertising Act

Last week, 3 Congresswomen introduced the bill to ban surveillance advertising. The Banning Surveillance Advertising Act prohibits advertising networks and facilitators from using personal data to target advertisements, with the exception of broad location targeting to a recognized place, such as a municipality. Understandably, many marketing and advertising service providers including Google, as well as advertisers, are reacting to express their concerns about this new bill. At the same time, the bill is supported by leading public interest organizations, academics, and companies with privacy-preserving business models.

Important points: Sec. 2. Prohibition on targeted advertising.

Subsection (a) prohibits advertising facilitators from targeting the dissemination of ads and prohibits
advertising facilitators from knowingly enabling a third party to target ads. The subsection clarifies that
contextual ads are not prohibited, information collected in connection with ad delivery cannot be used for
further targeting, and a list of individuals to target provided by an advertiser must be accompanied with a
written attestation that the advertiser is not in violation of prohibitions in subsection (b).

Subsection (b) prohibits advertisers from targeting or causing an advertising facilitator or third party to
target the dissemination of ads (including by providing a list of individuals, e.g., Custom Audiences)
based on personal information the advertiser obtained from a third party (e.g., purchased from a data
broker) or that relates to protected class status or proxies thereof.

This bill shows the increasing concerns of online privacy in the country. I think we’ll have a regulation similar to the EU’s GDPR in the US in near future, which will undeniably impact online and offline ad targeting.

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