Industry’s behavioural ad guidelines criticised
Six months given to sort out privacy protection
The trade body for the online advertising industry has produced guidelines for companies to follow to ensure that behavioural advertising does not breach users' rights to privacy. Privacy activists have said the rules do not protect users enough.
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has published the guidelines and Google, Microsoft Advertising, Yahoo! SARL and Phorm have all committed to following them. The IAB said that signatories have six months in which to comply with the rules.
Behavioural advertising tracks users' online activity and can target adverts to users according to what websites they have visited. Even advertisers concede, though, that the benefit to them of more targeted advertising has to be balanced with the privacy rights of internet users.
"The Good Practice Principles set out commitments to transparency, user choice and education. The Principles complement current UK data protection laws with new practices relating to the collection and use of online data," said an IAB statement.
The guidelines have three principles. Firstly, advertisers or website operators must inform users that their data is being collected and used for advertising.
Secondly, users must have a choice about whether they receive the advertising or not. Thirdly, companies must clearly outline what they are doing and how users can opt out of it.
"These are significant developments in offering people greater transparency and choice regarding behavioural advertising," said Nick Stringer, head of regulatory affairs at the IAB.
Digital rights body the Open Rights Group (ORG) said, though, that the protections offered by the rules were not good enough for users of the web.
In a statement on the body’s blog, executive director Jim Killock said that the way that the rules say users should opt out of the system is a problem.
“The sites using behavioural advertising are likely to be operating via cookies. Any ‘opt out’ would be stored by a cookie. So each time a user deletes their cookies, or changes browser or machine, they have to opt out,” he said. “This makes opting out a repeated procedure, such that which would make all but the most stubborn user simply give their consent.”
“This is not how consent should work, and a system that ‘pesters’ users into opting in is in our view an illegitimate attempt to substitute acquiescence for consent, whereas nothing but consent is acceptable,” said Killock.
“If users want more relevant advertising, and this is to be achieved by allocating them to ‘segments‘, why not let them choose the segments they want to belong to? We do not accept the claim that behavioural surveillance for profiling is a service to users,” said Killock.
Google, amongst others, has backed the plan.
"Google believes in two core principles of transparency and choice when it comes to user privacy. That is why we are supportive of these new, self-regulatory principles for online advertising which will enable consumers to increase their understanding of their web surfing options," said Mark Howe, UK country sales director for Google.
The guidelines say that companies should give clear notice about data collection, and that any contracts they sign with other companies in relation to the collection should commit them to doing the same.
The guidelines say that information on how to decline behavioural advertising should be "prominently displayed and easily accessible" on web sites.
The rules forbid companies from using behavioural advertising specifically to target children younger than 13. They also say that companies should consider other areas or target groups sensitive and should avoid targeting them, but they do not issue any instructions on what those groups or areas might be and exactly what action signatories should take.
"There are valid privacy concerns about creating a segment for [behavioural advertising] in some areas because they could be considered sensitive in certain contexts," say the guidelines. "Individual members may therefore make different judgements in their respective approach but will be guided by the over-riding objective of maintaining user trust."
See: The guidelines (pdf)
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String, washing powder, what's the difference? We can sell ANYTHING!
"online advertising"? Whatever will they think of next? You mean, that colourful wallpapery stuff that always surrounds the content I'm viewing?
I notice it about as often as I notice my actual wallpaper. I pay it even less attention. I hear you can 'Click' on these things, but I'll never know for sure. I know that some of them "pop up" and force you to deal with them before GETTING ON WITH YOUR LIFE. Maybe they are harvesting data on response times to finding the 'close' button.
In fact, clicking an online advert is like leaping from your sofa and rushing down the shops for some Persil because you saw an ad on the telly.
Does this make me a bad citizen?
BTW I am a subscriber to a popular subscription-only consumer's magazine. This month I read, with enormous interest, the results of a certain controversial survey of roughly 2642 members' opinions towards the implementation of a certain marketing tool into everyone's interwebs. (it would be very bad Form indeed to name names! Conspiracy Theorists! Try making an anagram of Tony Hart's best friend (No not Mr.Bennett, FFS!))
Basically, there were 5 responses to a question, the MOST positive of which was 'Other / Don't know' (<10%) There was no reponse along the lines of "I have positive feelings towards this product". Respondants seemed to either dislike it, or hate it.
The Internet Advertising Bureau wont bite the hand that feeds them !!!!!!!!!!
as the title says, FFS its their own body we are talking about, not a legal eagle INDEPENDANT official watchdog, since when can ANY industry be trusted to police itself and NOT be biassed/influenced in favour of its own members that pay said associations wages/profits, FFS lets get real peeps :O)
@Norman Andrews, your half right Norman but its a lot worse than you think, whether opted out or in, ALL of BT's traffic is redirected to the PHORM servers (webwise.net) and basically the site you requested is MIRRORED from PHORM'S proxy servers masquerading as the original site you requested to visit, see here for simple diagram :- http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c4/Phorm_cookie_diagram.png grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr :O)
apart from the privacy issue, just how much slower is all this $hite gonna make the web, jeeeeeeeeeeeeez, BT's slow enough allready, so wheres all this extra bandwidth coming from to drive this beast ?? yep you got it, its you the punter that pays in the end one way or another, heads they win, tails we lose, its as simple as that, also who's to say its targeted adds that were talking about and not just adds from PHORM et al's highest bidders, hmmmmmmmmmm, whos to know eh ??
see here for more on PHORM's previous errrrrrrrrrrrrrr, forms (pun intended) :- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phorm#Company_history
quote about PHORM :-
In its previous incarnation of 121media, the Company's products were described as spyware. As 121Media it distributed a program called PeopleOnPage, which was classified as spyware by F-Secure. PeopleOnPage was an application built around their advertising engine called ContextPlus. ContextPlus was also distributed as a root kit called Apropos, which used tricks to prevent the user from removing the application and sent information back to central servers regarding a user's browsing habits.
In November 2005 the Center for Democracy and Technology in the US filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over distribution of what it considered spyware, including ContextPlus. They stated that they had investigated and uncovered deceptive and unfair behaviour. This complaint was filed in concert with the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Internet Center, a group that was filing a similar complaint against Integrated Search Technologies with Canadian authorities.
In May 2006 ContextPlus shut down its operations and stated "[Contextplus are] no longer able to ensure the highest standards of quality and customer care". The shutdown came after several major lawsuits against adware vendors had been launched. Phorm has countered this with an admission of a company history in adware and the closing down of a multi-million dollar revenue stream as people confused adware with spyware.
Kent Ertugrul - "The problem for newspapers is that a story headlined 'Two Dead in Baghdad' isn't very product-friendly" said Kent Ertugrul, chief executive of Phorm, a behavioral targeting company working with British newspapers. "But if you know who is looking at the page, that's where the opportunity is."
bahhhhhhhhhh, money grabbing $histers grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr !!!!!
/rant over, im going outside now to have a good scream in the park :O)
mines the one with the valium in the pocket O_O
Thanks to the government sponsored economic disaster that has befallen us, companies like Phorm and Nebuad have a very attractive proposition to dangle in front of businesses that are desperate to shift their products in a shrinking market. Advertising spend is moving rapidly from print media and TV onto the internet where there is little or no regulation (sound familiar?) to restrain the whores of the advertising industry. When these same whores get into bed with the likes of Phorm, who knows what kind of genetic mutations they will spawn.
Joe Bloggs, having had his data stolen, profiled, gift-wrapped and shoved up his ass will, in the short term, have no defence against this assault on his privacy. However, in the longer term the attractions of the Kamikaze strategy, as practised by NuLabour and other economic terrorists, may appeal to an increasing number of people. Simply by installing Adblock technology and blanking out EVERY ad they throw at you, it will be possible to shut down the internet economy for as long as it takes to bring these greedy bastards to their knees. If I'm going down then I'm taking you suckers with me.
Really have to take my medication now and go for a lie down in a darkened room.