The Secure Times

An online forum of the ABA Section of Antitrust Law's Privacy and Information Security Committee

FTC proposes self-regulatory principles for behavioral targeting

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The FTC’s been busy today. In addition to clearing Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, they’ve proposed a set of principals to guide self-regulation in behavioral advertising. Broadly, their proposals are:

  • Every website where data is collected for behavioral advertising should provide a clear, consumer-friendly, and prominent statement that data is being collected to provide ads targeted to the consumer and give consumers the ability to choose whether or not to have their information collected for such purpose.
  • Any company that collects or stores consumer data for behavioral advertising should provide reasonable security for that data and should retain data only as long as is necessary to fulfill a legitimate business or law enforcement need.
  • Companies should obtain affirmative express consent from affected consumers before using data in a manner materially different from promises the company made when it collected the data.
  • Companies should only collect sensitive data for behavioral advertising if they obtain affirmative express consent from the consumer to receive such advertising.
  • The FTC seeks comment on what constitutes “sensitive data”  (proposed already has been health information and information from minors) and whether the use of sensitive data should be prohibited, rather than subject to consumer choice.

Although many of the proposals are in line with the NAI Principles, so far the industry self-regulatory standard for cookie-based ad networks, some are pretty revolutionary in the privacy arena — for example, the application of standards to single-site tracking and personalization, an affirmative standard to retain data for no longer than necessary (similar to the EU’s data retention requirements), and a requirement to obtain affirmative consent to major changes to a privacy policy (rather than the notice and opt-out regime currently practiced by most companies here and in other countries).

Comments on the proposals are due February 22, 2008.

Update: The NAI comments on the proposal.

Author: ABA Antitrust

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