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FTC Issues ‘Last Chance’ To Ad Industry On Behavioral Targeting

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The Federal Trade Commission is putting the advertising industry on notice: either implement stronger privacy protections when it comes to behavioral targeting or we will do it for you. In the FTC’s 48-page Staff Report on Behavioral Advertising (PDF), the commission includes a set of four revised principles, which are currently non-binding. They are:

— Transparency and Consumer Control: Every website that uses behavioral targeting should clearly and concisely spell out what they’re doing. The FTC recommends that users be given the simple method to opt-out of the site’s targeting tools. Industr

— Reasonable Security, and Limited Data Retention, for Consumer Data: The document states that “Companies should also retain data only as long as is necessary to fulfill a legitimate business or law enforcement need.” If the FTC decides to take a stronger regulatory hand on this, the question of just how long a site “reasonably” needs to hold on to user info could be a major sticking point.

— Affirmative Express Consent for Material Changes to Existing Privacy Promises: In other words, a company must keep its promises that it makes with consumers when it comes to protecting their data. If they get bought or merge with another company, those pledges still hold, unless consumers agree to the changes. If the company revises its policies on privacy, they must receive users’ consent before implementing the new rules.

— Affirmative Express Consent to (or Prohibition Against) Using Sensitive Data for Behavioral Advertising: If companies want to collect “sensitive” personal data, it must get users’ permission before, not after, it starts collecting. Release

Industry groups unite on preserving self-regulation: In response to the FTC’s ongoing scrutiny of behavioral targeting, four the largest advertising trade organizations are stepping up their efforts to maintain self-regulatory policies that were set over a year ago by the Federal Trade Commission. The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A

4 Responses to “FTC Issues ‘Last Chance’ To Ad Industry On Behavioral Targeting”

  1. scott carmichael

    okay, I read the FTC document and answered my own question. The answer:

    That's who the FTC is conducting the dialogue with.

    The FTC is having this conversation with the ad and marketing community, and asking them to police this issue. The ad and marketing community can't and shouldn't be asked to police this issue, or make any guarantees to do so.

    This discussion should be conduced at the executive level with the large community of organizations that manage member data.

    Moreover, "Affirmative Express Consent for Material Changes to Existing Privacy Promises", is not an issue that should be driven by marketing / ad concerns or their associated organizations.

    Ugh, the Feds!

  2. scott carmichael

    This is important but is not a marketing or ad issue at its core. Why are these groups taking the lead?

    The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) have formed a group designed to maintain the FTC’s December 2007 ruling to let the ad industry police itself.

  3. invitedmedia

    yep, self-regulation worked quite well in the financial services industry.

    the direct marketing assoc. can be trusted as far as you can throw a recycle bin full of junkmail.