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Online advertisers have pledged to make it easier for people surfing the web to opt out of targeted advertising that closely monitors viewing habits and other personal information.

Under a program announced Monday, participating websites would display an advertising option icon next to ads that collect user data that explains what information is being collected and why. Users would then have the option of opting out of being tracked altogether. Those who drop out of targeted advertising may see more generic-looking ads from networks or no ads at all.

About 5,000 companies are represented by the various trade groups participating in the program. The American Association of Advertising Agencies, the American Advertising Federation, and the Direct Marketing Association are three of the biggest groups involved.

Marketers that collect user data as part of behavioral advertising can begin participating in the initiative by visiting the AboutAds.info website. The Better Business Bureau and the Direct Marketing Association will monitor the program and also have authority for enforcing compliance. ®

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