News/Media Alliance Calls on Federal Trade Commission to Safeguard Journalism, Adopt “Data Poaching Rule”

Rule would limit platforms’ ability to reap first-party consumer data from publishers and shift up to 10% of platform revenue to content creators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Arlington, VA – The News/Media Alliance today filed comments and an accompanying economic study with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), urging the agency to ensure news and magazine publishers maintain the ability to benefit from digital advertising under any potential consumer privacy rules it may adopt. The comments were in response to the FTC’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on commercial surveillance and data security, published in August. The ANPR requested stakeholder feedback on whether the agency should implement new trade regulation rules on how companies use consumer data.

Highlighting the vital role high-quality journalism plays in supporting a healthy democracy and vibrant local economies – and the importance of digital advertising in supporting investments in journalism – the Alliance in its submission to the FTC recommends the adoption of a “Data Poaching Rule” that would prohibit dominant tech platforms from poaching first-party consumer data from publishers.

Today the dominant platforms use their market power to collect consumer data broadly throughout the internet – not just to provide a service in exchange for data – while also dictating the contractual terms of any services they provide, giving them broad usage rights to the data they poach. Third-party collection and selling of users’ data on websites owned by news and magazine publishers is not within a reasonable expectation of our readers. The platforms’ extensive tracking of consumers can eventually lead to an erosion of consumer trust and weaker competition in digital advertising markets. The Alliance’s proposed Data Poaching Rule would grant the sole right to collect consumer data to the known owner or operator of the digital property with whom the consumer interacts. Based on the Apple App Tracking changes over the last couple of years, it can be expected that around 10 percent of current revenue received by the platforms will shift to publishers, including news and magazine publishers, which will in turn result in increased quality journalism.

“Regulators must act now to address the monopolistic practices of the dominant platforms that suppress competition and threaten quality journalism in the digital ecosystem,” stated Alliance Executive Vice President & General Counsel Danielle Coffey. “Federal consumer privacy rules, if drafted properly, could help rebalance the playing field, with the Data Poaching Rule ensuring that those who produce original content and build long-lasting and trusting relationships with their users benefit the most from digital advertising on their websites.”

The comments also discuss the quid pro quo relationship between publishers and their readers – and publishers’ practice of clearly disclosing their data collection practices upfront and the benefit consumers receive from it – in addition to noting the benefits of targeted advertising, when conducted responsibly. The comments also call on the FTC to be mindful of existing data security and privacy compliance frameworks and to make sure any new rules would be consistent with those laws and regulations in order to lower compliance costs and provide consistency and predictability.

The comments further argue that any new rules should be weighed against the harm to the consumer, apportioned based on size and risk, and allow for companies to cure violations that have not resulted in “substantial privacy harm” under certain circumstances. Enforcement, meanwhile, should focus on instances of reckless or knowing violations.

The News/Media Alliance’s comments can be viewed in full here and the economic study – produced by Hal Singer and Augustus Urschel of Econ One – here.

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Media Contact:
Lindsey Loving
Director, Communications
News/Media Alliance
lindsey@newsmediaalliance.org

The News/Media Alliance is a nonprofit organization representing more than 2,000 news and magazine media organizations and their multiplatform businesses in the United States and globally. Alliance members include print and digital publishers of original journalism. Headquartered just outside Washington, D.C., the association focuses on ensuring the future of journalism through communication, research, advocacy, and innovation. Information about the News/Media Alliance can be found at www.newsmediaalliance.org.

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