SIIA Digital Policy Roundup: "Do Not Track" discussions stalled, FTC announces workshop on native advertising, SIIA Comments to FTC on E-Rate, Postal Exigency Rate Still Possible

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“Do Not Track” Discussions Stalled, Ability to Reach Consensus Questioned
As the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and other stakeholders assess the status of discussions surrounding a browser-based “do not track” solution, the process suffered a significant setback on Tuesday when the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) announced that it is withdrawing from future participation in the W3C Tracking Protection Working Group (TPWG). In a letter to W3C CEO Jeff Jaffe, the DAA announced it will convene its own process and forum for evaluating how browser-based signals can be used meaningfully to address consumer privacy. The process reportedly will include browsers manufacturers, consumer groups, advertisers, marketers, agencies and technologists and will be a more practical use of our resources than to continue to participate at the W3C.”In response, past TPWG Chair Peter Swire expressed his agreement that the Working Group does not have a path to consensus that includes large blocs of stakeholders with views as divergent as this group. Regardless of these developments, the W3C is poised to continue the discussions, expected to make an announcement about next steps today. If broad consensus is not reached soon between the divergent stakeholders, it’s likely that members of Congress and the FTC will resume the push for a regulatory approach.

FTC Announces Workshop on Native Advertising
On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it will host a workshop on December 4, 2013, to examine the practice of blending advertisements with news, entertainment, and other content in digital media, referred to as “native advertising” or “sponsored content.” In the announcement, the FTC noted that “increasingly, advertisements that more closely resemble the content in which they are embedded are replacing banner advertisements – graphical images that typically are rectangular in shape – on publishers’ websites and mobile applications. The workshop will bring together publishing and advertising industry representatives, consumer advocates, academics, and government regulators to explore changes in how paid messages are presented to consumers and consumers’ recognition and understanding of these messages.

SIIA’s Comments to FCC Identify 10 Steps for Enhancing the E-Rate Program
In comments submitted Monday to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposal to modernize the E-rate Program for schools and libraries, SIIA strongly supported the Commission’s effort to review, modernize and enhance the program and made 10 recommendations. The E-rate program provides schools and libraries with discounts off advanced telecommunications and information services in order to ensure their affordable access. At the core of SIIA’s objectives, robust Internet access through high-speed broadband connectivity is critical to a 21st century education system, and to providing educators and students with access to technology-based tools and resources that are mission critical for teaching and learning in today’s digital age. For more information or to access the comments, visit our Digital Discourse Blog.

Postal Board Defers, but Rate Increases Still Possibly on Horizon
On September 5th the Postal Board of Governors met to consider rate increases, including a possible exigent rate increase on periodicals. The Board deferred a decision on the exigent rate increase until at least its next meeting which is scheduled for next week, September 24th and 25th. Meanwhile, SIIA recently met with members of the Postal Regulatory Commission and congressional leaders on this issue to discuss our concerns with the possible exigent rate increase, as well as other matters potentially impacting our members. While there are a number of moving parts to this discussion, SIIA is continuing to monitor developments related to a possible exigent rate increase and remains engaged with policymakers.As of right now, we continue to believe a potential rate increase of 7-10% is a possibility with a likely exigent filing by USPS and negative rate provisions in the Senate version of postal reform legislation. At this point we expect a CPI increase of approximately 1.8% will go into effect in January.

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.