Privacy & Security Alert: FTC Proposes "Self-Regulatory" Principles for Ehavorial Online Advertising

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Late in December, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a set of proposed self-regulatory principles designed to address the rapidly evolving practice of “behavioral advertising.” The FTC notes that the practice, broadly defined as the “tracking of a consumer’s activities online—including the searches the consumer has conducted, the web pages visited, and the content reviewed—in order to deliver advertising targeted to the individual consumer’s interests,” could pose important consumer privacy issues. Although the FTC proposal is “selfregulatory,” the “announced principles are a lot tougher … than most observers expected,” Professor Peter Swire, a noted privacy expert, told Advertising Age. Participants at the recent FTC town hall meeting entitled “Ehavioral Advertising: Tracking, Targeting, and Technology” raised some of the more pervasive issues surrounding behavioral advertising and were

summarized in a Mintz Levin Privacy Alert (available here). The FTC’s proposed principles provide very general responses to the issues raised at the meeting. The full FTC release, is available here. The FTC’s proposal states that behavioral advertising provides benefits to consumers in the form of free content and personalized advertising but notes that this practice is largely invisible and unknown to consumers.

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