IP Watch: Happy Data Privacy Day 2011 Online


Does online behavioral advertising (OBA) invade consumer privacy? Federal regulators claim that it does and threaten to increase regulation of online advertising if the industry does not soon provide consumers with tools to understand and control what personal data is shared with OBA. “Do-not-track” tools will soon be available so consumers can opt-out of OBA on websites they visit. The ad industry finally responded to the regulators’ requests for “baked-in” browsing tools that offer consumers control over what data may be collected by OBA. The ad industry strenuously objects to any mechanism that could interfere with the free flow of information across the Internet. Objections that now seem swept aside by renewed pressure from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Commerce Department and Congress that the industry take steps now to protect consumers from overreaching OBAs. The industry caved. This week saw announcements from browser developers, ad networks and industry groups of new tools, soon to be released, that may allow consumers to better understand and control how their personal data is used and shared by OBA.

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