COLOGNE — The US PRISM data snooping controversy has hampered efforts to argue against European ad-targeting rules that are already too onerous, says GroupM Interaction COO John Montgomery.   GroupM is the media agency  holding unit of WPP.

“The US is trying to support self-regulation – we’re trying to avoid any form of legislation by regulating ourselves,” he says in this video interview with Beet.TV at DMEXCO. “We have an icon through the Digital Advertising Alliance that we place on all behavioral advertising to make sure consumers know, transparently, that data is being collected and they have an opportunity to opt out.

“In Europe, it’s much more about data consent and opting in, which we find is very, very restrictive. We’re worried about a more restrictive approach slowing the growth of the web. We so much need a silver lining in our economy right now. Digital is one of the biggest net contributors of jobs. We don’t want legislation to slow down or strangle that kind of growth.”

European rules on data collection were already more stringent than in the States, and some politicians like digital commissioner Neelie Kroes have lately made capital from the NSA PRISM snooping scandal, calling for consumer protection and for consumers to host their data on European servers.

“Things like PRISM really haven’t helped us. Sharing data with Europe right now is quite restrictive,” Montgomery tells Furious Minds CEO Ashley Swartz.

“Self-regulation’s already working. We’re serving more than a trillion of those privacy icons on all of our ads. Forty million people are going to the Ad Choices website. More than a million people have opted out.

“We really think that, the moment you introduce legislation, it’ll slow things down. Washington doesn’t move slowly, this business moves at lightning speed. We really don’t want to dumb it down to the lowest com denominator.”

Montgomery spoke with us after his panel on the topic of privacy.