The Secure Times

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

59th Antitrust Law Spring Meeting: Zeroing in on Behavioral Targeting

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The ABA Antitrust Section spring meeting began March 30, 2011, and features a number of programs focusing on privacy and data security issues. In the “Zeroing in on Behavioral Targeting” program, panelists from the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the Washington state attorney general’s office, and law firm privacy experts discussed current issues and legal actions involving online behavioral targeting.

Panelists included Becky Burr of WilmerHale; Tina Kondo, Deputy Attorney General with the Washington State Office of the Attorney General; Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection; and David Parisi with Parisi & Havens, LLP.

Important highlights from the panel include the following:

  • Maneesha Mithal with the FTC discussed the FTC’s recently announced settlement with Google regarding Google’s social networking tool—Buzz. She remarked that entities should look to the privacy provisions in the Buzz settlement to use as industry best practices for protecting consumers’ privacy. Ms. Mithal also discussed the FTC’s do-not-track proposals, remarking that do-not-track tools should be easy to find and use by consumers, effective and enforceable, universal, persistent, and allow consumer to fully opt-out of information collection, not just allow consumers to prevent a entity from using personal information in a certain manner.
  • Tina Kondo with the Washington state attorney general’s office discussed state regulator priorities for behavioral advertising, which (1) include enforcement actions against entities that target vulnerable individuals (e.g., seniors; individuals that are not technology savvy; individuals with bad credit, facing a foreclosure, or other financial hardships) using unfair or deceptive practices; and (2) cross-transaction marketing practices, where credit card and other personal information is shared with third-party businesses unknown to the consumer.
  • Additionally, panelists discussed self-regulatory models that entities may use to implement do-not-track policies and provide consumers with meaningful choices regarding behavioral advertising. These included a discussion of the methods that Internet browsers employ to allow consumers to stop online marketers’ tracking activities.  Finally, panelists discussed the impact that privacy and behavioral advertising class action lawsuits will have in shaping entities’ behavioral targeting practicies.

A full list of the ABA’s Antitrust Spring Meeting programs, including privacy and data security specific programs, is available here.

Author: ABA Antitrust

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