US advertising groups are eyeing nervously developments in Minnesota, where the first state-specific online privacy law was approved last week.

Coming into force on March 1 next year, the legislation will comply online firms to gain consent from Minnesota residents before handing their details to other marketers. Consumers would also have to be informed of what sort of organisation would be using the data and for what purposes.

Cue anguished cries from ad lobby groups, who argue that marketers would suffer unduly under the new laws and are worried that other states will follow suit. Indeed, similar regulations are already being contemplated in Michigan and California.

“There is reason to be concerned that other states will now step in and say Minnesota has protected its citizens, so we should have as much or greater protection for ours,” complained Dan Jaffe, executive vp of the Association of National Advertisers. “In this kind of contest, the most restrictive rule will dominate.”

Further concerns are that state-by-state laws will hinder ecommerce and be difficult for firms to stick to in the boundary-free online world. “The problem,” declared Adonis Hoffman, senior vp of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, “is going to be inconsistent regulation from state to state.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff