Advertising Titans Unite to Thwart California's Data Broker Bill

In an astounding display of corporate concern, prominent advertising organizations and an assortment of business groups are mustering their forces to thwart a bill that might bestow upon California residents the almost heretical power to effortlessly scrub their data from every data broker that's been cozy enough to register with the state.

In a recent letter to California's distinguished lawmakers, these organizations argue vehemently that the Delete Act (SB 362) is nothing short of a sinister plot to cripple a slew of programs and services, sending them into oblivion. Brace yourself: These services include anti-fraud campaigns, loyalty programs, and, brace yourself even more, public interest research.

In their open letter, a coalition of 19 groups, including juggernauts like the Association of National Advertisers, American Association of Advertising Agencies, California Retailers Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and the enigmatic NetChoice, put forth their collective argument. Their claim is a Shakespearean tragedy: "If passed, SB 362 would have a negative impact on Californians." Expect dramatic gasps.

The groups argue that without their prized data, businesses would be rendered entirely impotent, unable to produce the vital products and services that we, the benighted masses, presumably benefit from on a regular basis. What exactly are these enchanted, life-enhancing items and services, you wonder? That's a secret they'll keep in the boardroom vault, dear reader.

Not content with their grand pronouncement, they continue their fervent plea by suggesting that the Delete Act might just flatten the dreams of small businesses under its ponderous legal boot. These smaller entities, we're told, are like minnows swimming in the vast ocean of capitalism. Their survival hinges on the gracious sharing of data from these benevolent data brokers. Without it, they'll be gasping for air, or in this case, customers.

Privacy groups, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are the opposing chorus in this big symphony of corporate concern. They perceive data brokers as the main villains in this story, gathering sensitive information that could lead to a variety of nightmarish scenarios ranging from harassment to discrimination and even legal squabbles.

In their emotional plea, they stated that data brokers are the offenders when it comes to the reckless sale of our personal information. This is a declaration that makes you think these data brokers are the digital version of the Joker, twisting their virtual mustaches while selling our secrets to the highest bidder.

Meanwhile, the bill itself has its own share of theatrics. Passed by the state Senate earlier this year, it's currently making its way through the Assembly, with a final vote looming on the horizon. But not without opposition. The Consumer Data Industry Association, representing credit bureaus and other data brokers, has unleashed an ad campaign to defeat the bill. They're not going down without a fight, plastering mobile billboards and digital ads all over Sacramento, effectively turning the city into an arena for this digital showdown.

Their arguments are numerous, with president and CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association, Dan Smith, in the forefront. He warns that the bill could put a crimp in fraud prevention efforts. Data brokers, you see, hold critical information such as where you went to high school or the automobile model you previously owned. Delete that; identity verification is no longer possible, leaving your accounts vulnerable to scammers.

But hold on, there's more! The bill also demands that data brokers honor deletion requests submitted by consumers' agents. Opponents argue that the bill lacks any standards for verifying these agent-submitted requests, effectively paving the way for a deluge of for-profit companies to wade in and make deletion requests on behalf of consumers. It's akin to the Wild West, except instead of gunslingers, we have data-slingers.

So, what is the dramatic story's big finale? If the bill is passed and signed by the governor, it will not take effect until 2026. That gives us all plenty of time to relax, open some popcorn, and watch the data fight unfold. Will Californians recover control of their data, or will data brokers continue to rule our digital lives? The narrative continues, but one thing is certain: it is a drama worthy of our attention.

Read next: Settlement in Google's Play Store Antitrust Case
Previous Post Next Post