A new bill seeks to drastically reshape the online advertising landscape at the expense of companies like Facebook, Google and data brokers that leverage deep stores of personal information to make money from targeted ads.
the account, the Surveillance Advertising Prohibition Act, introduced by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in the House and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate, would drastically limit the ways tech companies serve ads to their users, completely banning the use of personal data.
Any targeting based on “protected class information such as race, gender and religion, and personal data acquired from data brokers” would be off limits if the bill passed. Platforms can still target ads based on general location data at the city or state level, and “contextual advertising” based on the content a user is interacting with would still be allowed.
The bill would authorize the FTC and state attorneys general to enforce violations, with fines of up to $5,000 per incident for knowing about violations.
“The ‘surveillance advertising’ business model is premised on the inappropriate collection and storage of personal data to allow for ad targeting,” said Representative Eshoo. “This pernicious practice allows online platforms to pursue user engagement at a high cost to our society and fuels misinformation, discrimination, voter suppression, abuses of privacy and so many other harms.”
Senator Booker called the targeted advertising model “predatory and invasive”, emphasizing how the practice exacerbates misinformation and extremism on social media platforms.
Privacy-conscious companies, including search engine maker DuckDuckGo and Proton, creators of ProtonMail, supported the legislation along with organizations such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Anti-Defamation League, Accountable Tech and Common Sense Media. .