IAB challenges bill that could expand FTC's power

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The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is raising concerns about a new bill currently being considered in Congress that would potentially expand the power of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act (H.R. 3126) would create a new consumer protection agency in the financial space, as well as give more governing power to the FTC. The bill would remove some of the red tape involved in the FTC's ability to make rules and would open up their ability to engage in civil lawsuits. “This legislation will just help us do a better job in going after people who engage in fraud,” said Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC.

Advocacy groups are supporting the measure. In a statement sent to the FTC, the Center for Digital Democracy & Technology wrote, “Self-regulation cannot adequately protect consumer privacy when it is not girded by legal standards and more direct oversight from the FTC.”

However, the IAB is concerned that the FTC will be given too much power. The bill would allow the FTC to target companies that aid and abet bad actors. “We are worried about the downstream effect this would have on online publishers, if they were to enforce an online ad that was deceptive,” said Mike Zaneis, VP of public policy at the IAB. “This could make legitimate business practices today, illegal under the new rule, so the potential is vast.”

Since 2007, the FTC has been investigating whether or not to create rules for behavioral targeting online with the creation of a possible Do-Not-Track list. In response to this idea, this July a number of industry organizations including the IAB, the DMA and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), have come together and created a set of best practices in a move to self govern.

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act passed in the House Energy and Commerce committee at the end of October and moves to the full House this fall.

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