AAF-Houston Creative Matters! Special Bulletin - Government Report - March 9th, 2012

In an effort to provide our membership, and our advertising community with timely Governmental legislation, which directly or indirectly affects our industry, AAF-Houston is proud to pass along this AAF Government Report by  Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs.

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AAF Government Report 
March 9, 2012

Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs


White House Commends DAA Self-Regulatory Program

The Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory program, symbolized by the AdChoices icon received a significant boost when it was commended by the White House, Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission recently.  This groundbreaking program helps engender consumer trust by giving consumers the opportunity to protect their privacy and allowing them to establish control over their reception of online behavioral advertising.

The announcement marks an important milestone as industry and the government work together to protect consumer privacy and create trust, thereby helping to insure that the free Internet – like other free media, supported primarily by advertising – continues to flourish, grow and innovate.

The DAA recently launched Your AdChoices, a new consumer education campaign and website to inform consumers about interest based advertising and how they can take greater control of their online privacy.  AAF recently hosted a webinar to show members how to participate in the self-regulatory program.  Those who were not able to participate can view a recording of the webinar here.
 
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Administration Releases Privacy Bill of Rights

While praising industry efforts, the Obama Administration also released a proposed Privacy Bill of Rights and urged its enactment by Congress.  The proposals include such issues as individual control, transparency, security, access and accountability.  While the industry supports the concepts of the Bill of Rights, and has incorporated many of them into the DAA self-regulatory program, we do not believe legislation is needed and could in fact do more harm than good by unnecessarily hampering innovation and many good business practices.
 
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Court Reaffirms First Amendment Decision

United States District Judge Richard Leon has granted a permanent injunction, blocking implementation of the FDA’s graphic warnings rule for tobacco products.  The rule would have confiscated the top 20% of tobacco advertisements and top half of the front and back of tobacco packaging for the display of a rotating set of graphic images.

The Judge reaffirmed his decision from last fall when he granted a preliminary injunction blocking implementation.  The AAF has filed amicus briefs with the court urging it to block the warnings because they violate First Amendment protections for commercial speech.  The Judge agrees.

Among the highlights of Judge Leon’s decision he held that the rule constitutes compelled speech and does not fit within the narrow exception which permits compelled disclosure of “purely factual and uncontroversial information.”  He held that the warnings at issue were neither purely factual nor non-controversial.  He listed a number of less restrictive alternatives available to the government such as reducing the size of the warnings, confining them to factual information, increasing cigarette taxes, or improving efforts to prevent minors from purchasing cigarettes.  Judge Leon chided Congress for failing to consider the First Amendment implications of the warnings requirement.

The case is scheduled for oral argument at the D.C. Circuit in April. 
 
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Mississippi Bill Would Prohibit State Advertising

Legislation has been introduced in the Mississippi Senate to prohibit state agencies from purchasing advertising time or space from virtually all media in the state including radio and television, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, billboards and others.   The state’s powerful Lt. Governor, Tate Reeves (R), is reportedly pushing hard for passage of the bill.  Local AAF members, led by Mississippi legislative chair Maggie Clark, are actively contacting lawmakers urging them to reject the proposal.  The bill was scheduled for a vote on March 8, but has been put off until a later date.
 
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Maryland Bill Rejected by Committee

Legislation in Maryland that would impose a sales tax on digital downloads, was rejected in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.  The bill was written so broadly that many advertising agency services would have been subject to the tax if delivered digitally to clients.  The proposal still must be considered by the full Senate and in the House, but the Committee action is a positive development.  AAF-Baltimore legislative chair Cynthia Blake Sanders has been leading ad industry opposition to the proposed tax.
 
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