K Street Files: Getting Interactive with Congress

Posted August 8, 2008 at 4:54pm

Just as Members of Congress and privacy advocates have stepped up their scrutiny of targeted online advertising, the industry’s trade group is increasing its footprint in Washington, D.C.

[IMGCAP(1)]The New York-based Interactive Advertising Bureau — a $12-million-a-year group whose 375 members include Yahoo, Google, AOL and Microsoft as well as the Web sites of newspapers and network and cable news outlets such as News Corp. and NBC — has added its second D.C. lobbyist. Alison Pepper, most recently government affairs manager for credit-reporting company Experian, is joining IAB as director of public policy.

She will report to Mike Zaneis, a former lobbyist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who became IAB’s vice president for public policy a year and a half ago.

“In the first year I was here, there were two Congressional hearings” into online advertising, Zaneis said. “This year, in the three weeks leading up to the August recess, there were five.”

In recent weeks, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked more than 30 Internet companies for more data on how they track users’ Web activity in order to target them with ads for specific products based on that activity.

Zaneis said IAB and the industry plan to step up their efforts to let consumers know that the Internet companies are not tracking people by name or by financial information but instead by computer surfing habits. The group also wants to get the word out on opt-outs if consumers want them.

Randall Rothenberg, IAB’s president and CEO, said in a statement that the group’s focus on the nation’s capital comes “at a time when the online advertising industry’s successful efforts to self-regulate are being challenged by ill-informed and ill-advised regulatory proposals that would severely curtail the ability of businesses to market effectively on the Internet.”

The group is also relying on lobbying and regulatory help from the Venable LLP law firm, Zaneis said.

K Street Moves. Deborah Fleischaker, formerly with the American Bar Association’s death penalty moratorium project, has joined the group Families Against Mandatory Minimums, which lobbies against mandatory sentencing guidelines, as head of state-based sentencing reform efforts. Fleischaker also previously was a fellow at Public Citizen’s Congress Watch.

• John Gimigliano, former senior tax counsel to the House Ways and Means Committee and staff director for the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, has jumped to tax firm KPMG LLP. Gimigliano will serve as principal of the firm’s newly formed Americas Climate Solutions and Energy Sustainability Practice.

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