SIIA Digital Policy Roundup: FTC looks at Native Advertising, Patent Reform to the House Floor, DOC Launches Privacy discussions around facial recognition and SIIA opposes postal rate increases

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FTC Takes Close Look at “Native Advertising”
The Federal Trade Commission will host a workshop on Wednesday to examine the blending of advertisements with news, entertainment, and other editorial content in digital media, referred to as “native advertising” or “sponsored content.” The workshop will bring together publishing and advertising industry representatives, consumer advocates, academics, and self-regulatory organizations to explore: the ways in which sponsored content is presented to consumers online and in mobile apps; consumers’ recognition and understanding of it; the contexts in which it should be identifiable as advertising; and effective ways of differentiating it from editorial content. The workshop builds on previous Commission initiatives to help ensure that consumers can identify advertisements as advertising wherever they appear. This includes recent updates to the Search Engine Advertising guidance, the Dot Com Disclosures guidance, and the Endorsements and Testimonials Guides, as well as decades of law enforcement actions against infomercial producers and operators of fake news websites marketing products. Following the event, SIIA will provide a summary of the discussion for members to highlight what to expect in guidance from the FTC in 2014.

DOC Launches Talks on Facial Recognition Privacy
Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) announced a new privacy multistakeholder process on commercial use of facial recognition technology. The privacy multistakeholder process is an NTIA-led effort to implement part of the Obama Administration’s blueprint for improving consumers’ privacy protections in the information age and promoting the continued growth of the digital economy. SIIA issued a statement applauding the NTIA and offered strong agreement that the appropriate approach for data privacy protection is voluntary, enforceable codes of conduct that provide more flexibility for rapidly evolving technology than legislation or regulation can achieve. Read more on SIIA’s Digital Discourse Blog.

SIIA Opposes Postal Rate Increases
In comments filed last week, SIIA urged the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to reject the US Postal Service’s exigent rate increase request and explained why the postal rate increase is not justified. SIIA’s comments demonstrated the detrimental effect postal rate increases will have on companies, the mailing industry, and the American economy at large. To offset financial shortcoming of the USPS in part because of the recent great recession, the Commission is currently considering the proposed exigent rate increase of 4.3 percent and is expected to make a decision in late December. While it is not known what decision the PRC will reach, we remain hopeful that the Commission will recognize our points and act to either reject the exigent rate increase altogether or reduce it significantly, in turn reducing the burden on companies that rely on the mail to deliver magazines and other periodicals.

House to Take up Patent Reform
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Reps. is expected to take up patent litigation reform legislation, the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309). The vote will follow a meeting of the House Rules Cmte. to decide on the terms of the debate and amendments to be considered. In total, 26 amendments were submitted for consideration, including a Manager’s Amendment by Chairman Goodlatte. SIIA supports the legislation and has urged its immediate passage.

David David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.