Eshoo, Schakowsky, Booker Introduce Bill to Ban Surveillance Advertising

January 18, 2022
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congresswomen Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act, legislation that prohibits advertising networks and facilitators from using personal data to target advertisements, with the exception of broad location targeting to a recognized place, such as a municipality. The bill also prohibits advertisers from targeting ads based on protected class information, such as race, gender, and religion, and personal data purchased from data brokers. The bill makes explicit that contextual advertising, which is advertising based on the content a user is engaging with, is allowable.

“The ‘surveillance advertising’ business model is premised on the unseemly collection and hoarding of personal data to enable ad targeting. This pernicious practice allows online platforms to chase user engagement at great cost to our society, and it fuels disinformation, discrimination, voter suppression, privacy abuses, and so many other harms. The surveillance advertising business model is broken,” said Rep. Eshoo. “I’m proud to partner with Senator Booker and Congresswoman Schakowsky on legislation to ban this toxic business model that causes irreparable harm to consumers, businesses, and our democracy.”

“Surveillance advertising is at the heart of every exploitative online business model that exacerbates manipulation, discrimination, misinformation, extremism, and fundamentally violates people’s privacy in ways they would never choose if given a true choice. The Banning Surveillance Advertising Act will put a stop to this repulsive practice and therefore protect consumers by removing the financial incentive for companies to exploit consumers’ personal information and help stop a morass of online harms. I’m proud to join my colleagues Representative Eshoo and Senator Booker to stop this poisonous practice,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “I remain committed to passing bipartisan, comprehensive consumer data privacy legislation, and I believe a ban on this practice should be a part of any such privacy law. I look forward to continued discussion with Energy and Commerce Members on both sides of the aisle in order to achieve this outcome.”

“Surveillance advertising is a predatory and invasive practice. The hoarding of people’s personal data not only abuses privacy, but also drives the spread of misinformation, domestic extremism, racial division, and violence,” said Senator Booker. “With the introduction of the Ban Surveillance Advertising Act, advertisers will be forced to stop exploiting individuals’ online behavior for profits and our communities will be safer as a result.”

The Banning Surveillance Advertising Act is supported by leading public interest organizations, academics, and companies with privacy-preserving business models, including the following:

  • Public interest organizations
    • Accountable Tech
    • Ranking Digital Rights
    • Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
    • Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
    • Demand Progress
    • Common Sense Media
    • Consumer Federation of America (CFA)
    • Center for Digital Democracy
    • FairPlay
       
  • Companies
    • DuckDuckGo
    • Neeva
    • Beeper
    • Proton
       
  • Academics
    • Shoshana Zuboff, Professor Emerita at Harvard Business School and author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
    • Woodrow Hartzog, Professor of Law and Computer Science at Northeastern University and author of Privacy’s Blueprint
    • Joan Donovan, Research Director, Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
    • Carissa Veliz, Associate Professor, University of Oxford and author of Privacy is Power
    • Dipayan Ghosh, Co-Director of the Digital Platforms & Democracy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and author of Terms of Disservice
    • Ramesh Srinivasan, Professor and Director, UC Digital Cultures Lab, author of Beyond the Valley
    • Matthew Crain, Assistant Professor of Media & Communication, Miami University and author of Profit over Privacy: How Surveillance Advertising Conquered the Internet

Click here for statements of support.

Click here for bill text.

Click here for a section-by-section summary.

Click here for additional background.

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