Feeds

OFT leaves online ad snoopers to regulate themselves

What could go wrong?

Security for virtualized datacentres

The Office of Fair Trading believes the online behavioural advertising industry is quite able to regulate itself, despite some concerns about user profiling and adaptive pricing based on postcodes.

It said the Internet Advertising Bureau's approach to self-regulation goes some way to dealing with consumer concerns, although the rules are less than a year old. It noted that behavioural advertising revenues are between £64m and £95m - a fraction of the £3.35bn total for online advertising in the UK.

To strengthen self-regulation the OFT suggests more transparency about opting out, offering more detail on sensitive information collected and used to target advertising. It also suggests extending the voluntary code to social networking sites and strengthening the board which deals with complaints by getting people from outside the industry to take part.

The OFT sees regulation as split with the Information Commissioner's Office. Together the two quangos will write a Memorandum of Understanding to decide who deals with which issues. It also believes that behavioural advertising is covered by Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

Phorm is a member of the IAB but it used deep packet inspection rather than cookies to profile users. The OFT notes that DPI is not currently in use in the UK.

The OFT's research revealed a mixed view of behavioural advertising from consumers. Forty per cent of consumers were neutral on the subject, 28 per cent disliked it and 24 per cent welcomed it.

The group does express some concerns that targeted pricing could harm consumers. Targeted pricing would identify individual shoppers, either by postcode or by past purchases, that are likely to put up with a higher price than an ordinary punter.

The OFT supports the ICO view that such information should be considered personal data and therefore regulated accordingly - with consent provisions and opt-out options.

It does not believe that any companies in the UK are currently increasing prices based on consumers' past behaviour.

The full report is available here. ®

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.