Feeds

FTC gives behavioral ad punters one last chance

Voluntary self-regulation's final shot

The essential guide to IT transformation

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.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.