FTC gives behavioral ad punters one last chance
Voluntary self-regulation's final shot
The US Federal Trade Commission told online advertisers to do a better job of self-regulating how they track people's activities - or the government will step in and do it for them.
The regulatory agency issued a report Thursday with minor tweaks about how online targeted ads systems should collect, save, store, and share user information. The industry remains self-regulated despite calls from privacy groups for legislation on how companies are allowed to collect and use the data.
FTC adherence to a Bush administration policy of voluntary policing of internet advertising may be nearing the end of its rope, however. Commissioner Jon Leibowitz called the freshly modified guidance the industry's "last clear chance" to show that self-regulation will effectively protect consumer privacy.
After considering public comments from a November 2007 Town Hall meeting, the FTC offered its four revised principles for online ad punters:
1. Web sites are expected to provide clear and prominent notice regarding behavioral advertising as well as an easily accessible way for consumers to opt-out.
The agency said that because privacy policies posted on companies' websites are often too long and difficult to understand, ad-tracking disclosure mechanisms should be made separate and meaningful to users.
2. Companies should provide reasonable security for any data they collect for behavioral advertising and only retain data as long as it's needed for legitimate business or law-enforcement needs.
The Commission said the protections should be based on the sensitivity of the data and the nature of a company's business.
3. Websites are urged to obtain the express consent of users before they make material, retroactive changes to their data-collection policies.
"It is fundamental FTC law and policy that companies must deliver on promises they make to consumers about how their information is collected, used, and shared," the report states. "An important corollary is that a company cannot use data in a manner that is materially different from promises the company made when it collected the data without first obtaining the consumer's consent."
4. Companies should receive express consent for use of "sensitive data."
Although the Commission didn't offer a definition of "sensitive data," it did say that the clearest examples are items such as financial data, data about children, health information, and geographic-location information. The FTC added that it encourages industry, consumer, and privacy advocates to develop more-specific standards to address the issue.
Next page: 'First party' behavioral ads need not apply
Problem, Reaction, Solution
Problem: The government has spotted a problem, companies are playing fast and loose with peoples data.
Reaction: Oh no! The people cry, please Mr Obama can we have some laws to protect us?
Solution: Cirtainly, we have drafted this plan (sometime before you even knew there was a problem) that ensures that all data is collected securely and can be monitored directly by the new reglitory body out of the FBI/CIA/MI5
Is there nothing that escapes the black helecopter icon in these troubling times?
Who cares how much was spent?
It's all monopoly money.
More BS from a BS government agency
"Companies should provide reasonable security for any data they collect for behavioral advertising and only retain data as long as it's needed for legitimate business or law-enforcement needs."
If the data was collected for advertising reasons then there are NO law enforcement needs whatsoever. This is the crap excuse that gets inserted into any regulation now to justify data retention. "Hey the government may want to subpoena this at some time in the future so that justifies keeping it."
Going beyond that, there are also no legitimate business needs. There are only business "wants." More of this crap with assuming that you need everything you want. No wonder the world is going bankrupt.
How many hundreds of thousands of dollars do you think were spent developing this non-policy?