With the public and policymakers focusing on how data is collected and used after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, some in the marketing industry are calling for either government regulation or self-regulation to ease the public’s fears.


Stuart Ingis, partner at Venable LLP and policy and general counsel at the Digital Advertising Alliance, said the industry needs a new framework to create a global standard for data use.


“The tsunami that has followed [the Cambridge Analytica data scandal], that has become an awakening for many of us working in the industry,” Ingis said at the Coalition for Healthcare Communication conference on Wednesday. “We have realized that dynamic change and all the power that comes within data. This is the perfect storm; you’ve got regulators, policy, administration officials, press, and the public paying attention to this.”


Even with this attention, Ingis said, many stakeholders don’t understand how advertisers and marketers collect and use data because the complexity of the analytics industry can make it difficult to explain.


The industry’s first goal should be to educate policymakers and the public about how the industry self-regulates its advertising with organizations like the Digital Advertising Alliance, he said.


“We all have been adopting and implementing self-regulatory practices for some time,” Ingis said. “Even beyond self-regulatory practices, the businesses in your industry have best practices that are reputable and responsible, but that story is not out there, not holistic, and not looking at the world in the way policymakers are looking at things.”


Once stakeholders understand how data is used, either the industry or government should create a global regulatory framework for data privacy. Ingis suggested that framework could be built on top of the Digital Advertising Alliance’s blue icon that appears on millions of ads and can show the consumer why the ad is appearing and allows users to opt out of data tracking with one click.


Although many companies are outspoken against regulating data use, it wouldn’t be much of a change for healthcare communicators who are already used to government regulation.


“If you created a system like that, in effect you could create this new paradigm that would bring with it an abundance of riches and benefits to consumers and the public like what you’ve heard about in the last 100 years of FDA innovation,” Ingis said. “In the general privacy world, maybe because of some of the draconian proposals, there’s been strong opposition by businesses, but healthcare communicates take it better because you know the benefits of regulation.”