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Privacy advos demand 'do not track list' for websites

As web marketeers tune up for FTC privacy meeting

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A coalition of US privacy organisations has demanded the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) set up a "do not track" list to allow consumers to surf the web without having their behaviour monitored, warehoused, and mined by marketeers.

The groups' call for more internet privacy was part of the knuckle cracking by Washington's net lobbyists this morning ahead of an FTC sponsored Town Hall meeting covering behavioural internet advertising.

The coalition, which includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Centre for Democracy and Technology, has demanded customers be able to opt out of being tracked by advertisers, just as US consumers can sign up to a do not call list to escape telemarketers.

Other demands from the consumer privacy lobby include a redefinition of "personally identifiable information" and the setting up of an "online consumer protection privacy committee".

It's also demanded more disclosure by advertisers and a ban on "collecting and using personally identifiable information about health, financial activities, and other sensitive data".

Given that sensitive data is the gold dust that keeps advertisers digging away in their data warehouses, the battle lines are clearly drawn.

On the other side of the town hall, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), in its submission to the FTC, trumpeted its initiatives to protect consumer privacy, while saying "the interaction among consumers, publishers, and advertisers fuels the engine that drives the net".

Unsurprisingly, it insisted "self regulation protects consumer privacy". It is the increased use of information which "fosters the availability of free content and services and more relevant advertising", apparently, but consumers can rest easy as IAB members recognised their "responsibility to protect and use that information to benefit consumers". Mainly by producing more targeted marketing material.

And just to show how in tune it is with the kids, the IAB included a presentation that declares: "Marketing is the new rock and roll, Super CMOs are the stars, and growth champion marketing teams are the band." Which presumably makes tracking data the new cocaine. ®

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