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BizReport : Law & Regulation : December 03, 2010


Frustrated FTC proposes Do Not Track tool

Will "Do Not Track" soon join "Do Not Call" and "Do Not Mail" lists? If the Federal Trade Commission has its way, it will.

by Helen Leggatt

For years, consumers have been able to fend off telephone calls and unwelcome mail from businesses by signing up to various suppression lists, but they are yet to have the same choice for opting out of being tracked online.

However, the FTC's "Do Not Track" proposal (.pdf) would require ad networks and tracking services to comply with a consumer's wish not to have their online behavior tracked.

The FTC is frustrated by the lack of self-regulatory action to date, claiming the industry is not working in the interests of the American public.

They believe the most practical way of giving consumers a choice in whether or not data about their online behavior is tracked is to place a "persistent setting, similar to a cookie, on the consumer's browser signaling the consumer's choices about being tracked and receiving targeted ads".

While some advertisers may be frustrated at the move, depending on targeted advertising to hone their response and conversion rates, many believe that the move is needed to allay privacy fears.

"Our ability to deliver advertising messages to consumers that speak only to their interests must surely be one of the great benefits of the media revolution that we're living through," said Nancy Hill, President and CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, commenting on the association's efforts to protect consumer choice with regard to their online privacy.

"We fully understand that this advance in targeting will be lost if the public comes to believe that we are not responsible stewards of the data on which it is built."






Tags: ad targeting, advertising, online privacy








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