IAB Response to White House Request for Information on "Big Data"

On March 31, IAB submitted comments in response to the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Request for Information on “big data”. This solicitation for comments is part of a government review lead by John Podesta on the ways in which “big data” will impact Americans and the implications it will have on privacy, the economy, and public policy.

A link to the Request for Information is available here. Several important themes discussed in IAB’s comments are highlighted below.

  • IAB supports access to and use of data, which fuels innovation, provides tremendous benefits to consumers and our economy, and helps ensure our nation’s current competitive position globally.  The backbone of this thriving Internet economy is data. Data fuels not only the research and development responsible for business to business (B2B) advertising innovations like programmatic buying, ad exchanges, and technological developments for marketplace efficiency; but, enables marketers and publishers to reach the right consumer, with the right advertisement, at the right moment.
  • As policymakers confront the technological breakthroughs that are driving the collection, storage, analysis, and use of large data sets they should take care not to impose unnecessary and burdensome regulation.
  • IAB believes current U.S. regulatory approach appropriately addresses concrete harms while promoting the free flow of data. IAB has long supported robust self-regulatory enforcement efforts as a means of promoting accountability within the advertising ecosystem while ensuring the flexibility and adaptability of the industry and its enforcement efforts.  The Digital Advertising Alliance has been identified by the Obama Administration as a model of success in the creation of “enforceable codes of conduct” for consumer privacy.
  • The public policy considerations regarding government big data collection are very distinct from private sector collection and use.  The government can improve outcomes and productivity through the release of government data and the government’s support for private sector research using this data.  The federal government is one of the nation’s largest collectors of data, and the data in its possession has the potential to lead to fundamental scientific, economic, and technological breakthroughs if made available to the public. 
  • That vast collection of data by the federal government creates a unique opportunity for private sector research and development; however, the government’s control over this data remains the public’s primary privacy concern.  Strict legislative and judicial oversight should not be limited to revelations about the NSA and metadata collection; rather, cut across all government bodies that collect, house, and use data.  We encourage the Federal Government to adopt levels of transparency and control over data, when appropriate, that mirror those already implemented by the private sector.

Mike Zaneis
EVP, Public Policy and General Counsel
Interactive Advertising Bureau