Behavioral Advertising Privacy Legislation Update

big brother2009 has been an active year for self-regulation efforts on the part of the online advertising industry, led in large part by signals from the FTC that it may act to regulate behavioral advertising to protect consumer privacy. Associated Press coverage of the debate last week is a clue things are heating up, and this week the FTC announced it will host a hearing on the topic on December 7. Battle lines are being drawn between consumer privacy advocates on one hand and industry trade organizations on the other who are mobilizing to assemble self-regulatory guidelines to head off legislation.

It’s a foregone conclusion that Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) are drafting an online privacy bill that would govern the collection and use of consumer online behavior. While the debate may go from sub-committee to the full Energy and Commerce committee this fall, it is looking less likely that legislation will be heard by full House of Representatives in 2009.

What’s at issue primarily is the collection and use of behavioral data, the control consumers have over their own data and the likely harm, or lack therof, that could come from the data depending upon your position in the online advertising ecosystem.

Here is a roundup of publicly available information regarding where the FTC, key trade groups and Congress stand on the issues as of today.

December 16, 2008

Network Advertising Initiative Announces 2008 NAI Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct for Online Behavioral Advertising http://networkadvertising.org/networks/2008_NAI_Principles_PR_FINAL.pdf

February 12, 2009

FTC Staff Revises Online Behavioral Advertising Principles
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/02/behavad.shtm

June 18, 2009

U.S. House of Representatives – Committee on Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection – Hearing on Behavioral Advertising: Industry Practices and Consumers’ Expectations
http://energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1678:energy-and-commerce-subcommittee-hearing-on-behavioral-advertising-industry-practices-and-consumers-expectations&catid=129:subcommittee-on-commerce-trade-and-consumer-protection&Itemid=70

July 2, 2009

Key Trade Groups Release Comprehensive Privacy Principles for Use and Collection of Behavioral Data in Online Advertising http://www.iab.net/about_the_iab/recent_press_releases/press_release_archive/press_release/pr-070209
http://www.iab.net/media/file/ven-principles-07-01-09.pdf

September, 2009 

Privacy groups release “Online Behavioral Tracking and Targeting, Legislative Primer” http://www.uspirg.org/uploads/s6/9h/s69h7ytWnmbOJE-V2uGd4w/Online-Privacy—Legislative-Primer.pdf

Here are a few recent articles related to online behavioral advertising you may find of interest:

Four Privacy Protections the Online Ad Industry Left Out
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/06/four-privacy-protections-the-ad-industry-left-out/?ref=technology

FTC Hires Privacy Blogger
http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=111800#comments

Fresh Views at Agency Overseeing Online Ads
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/05/business/media/05ftc.html

The FTC Takes On Targeted Web Ads
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/aug2009/tc2009082_486167.htm

Privacy Groups Aim for FTC to Help Guide Online Privacy Law

http://www.clickz.com/3634859

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