Respect the boundaries
Madison Avenue will increasingly aim to shape policies regarding privacy. The American Association
of Advertising Agencies recently joined with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Association of National Advertisers and Direct Marketing Association to develop a set of industry self-regulatory
standards. Also in 2009, WPP/Kantar named its first chief privacy officer and an Omnicom unit recruited a privacy counsel. Look for others to follow suit.Congress is
expected to consider a proposal for new legislation regarding online behavioral targeting and privacy. Whether such a measure passes or not, the mere introduction of a bill could drive
change. "When a draft comes out, if it's done well, it will set a bar," says Jules Polonetsky co-chair and director of the think tank Future of Privacy Forum.
The draft bill is expected to encourage Web companies to give users access to their online profiles, as do companies like Google and BlueKai. Of course, the meaning of "access" remains in
play. It could simply require companies to allow people to view the broad interest categories associated with their Web-surfing activity, or could mean allowing people to see that information coupled
with a list of sites visited. Or the measure could require companies to give users control over their profiles.Opt-outs will become more
stable. The Network Advertising Initiative recently created a tool that helps consumers permanently preserve their opt-out preferences. Google likewise launched a browser plug-in that
provides for permanent opt-outs. Firefox offers TACO (Targeted Advertising Cookie Opt-Out), which stops behavioral advertising by 90 different companies.
But Web companies
are already figuring out how to circumvent opt-outs
. Researchers at the UC Berkeley School of Law recently reported that some sites are currently using Flash cookies to recreate deleted HTML
cookies.Adobe will make it easier to delete Flash cookies. The Federal Communications Commission will likely redefine how
it measures media concentration
as anti-trust becomes less of an issue in a Web environment filled with competitive alternatives. Still, the Obama administration will likely intensify deal
scrutiny.Regulatory approval of Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, to take a majority stake in media conglomerate NBC Universal, will invite major
distributors to consider vertical integration and follow suit.
New challenges to the FCC's plans to assure net neutrality on the Web: Legislation from U.S. Sen. John McCain,
(R-Ariz.) would protect broadband providers' rights to selectively block or slow Internet content and applications
Google will continue
to push the envelope with plans to create a digital library as the u.s. Justice Department mediates restitution agreements with authors and publishers.