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Guest Blog: Self-Regulation Through Innovation

In the few weeks since the close of this year’s NAI Summit, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the event and I’d like to share a few thoughts about my experience.

The Summit left me reinvigorated and amazed by the collective work we’re doing to advance the causes of effective digital advertising and enhanced consumer privacy through self-regulation. I was astounded at NAI members’ combined creativity and commitment to innovation and I was impressed by the energy and expertise that a wide range of representatives brought to the panels, discussions, and presentations.

This year’s Summit highlighted the pace at which technologies evolve and the industry’s response thereto. The presentations demonstrated that the NAI is successful because our Code of Conduct represents meaningful self-regulation that keeps pace with our industry’s constant evolution. I was reminded that our work will only become more relevant and significant when Department of Commerce General Counsel Kelly Welsh stressed that the digital economy plays a pivotal role in fostering growth and creating jobs. And when technical innovations were demonstrated – for example, when Jurgen Van Staden explained the centralized opt-out application during the Beyond Cookies panel – I was reminded of our organization’s consistent thought leadership.

So much of this year’s Summit centered on innovation, including panels dedicated to the digital landscape beyond cookies, the privacy considerations for cross-device identification, and the interconnectedness fostered by the Internet of Things. (I have to admit that I’m still not able to look at my electric toothbrush in the same way after that last panel!) The Summit showed that the same companies whose existence is predicated on their ability to solve complex technological problems that didn’t even exist a decade ago are also able to provide substantial solutions to today’s privacy challenges.

Going forward, I know that NAI will continue to work with its members to explore and invest in policies and initiatives that provide meaningful transparency, notice, and choice in ground-breaking ways to consumers. As the Summit showed, these policies and initiatives take shape at NAI as the technologies they’re meant to support emerges, not after lawmakers and regulators demand them. Self- regulation works because we hold ourselves to a higher standard and force ourselves to tackle the hardest problems first.

Ari Levenfeld is the senior director of privacy and inventory quality at Rocket Fuel, Inc.  He is a member of the NAI board of directors.

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