IAB Readying Next Phase Of Privacy Self-Regulation: Compliance

The Interactive Advertising Bureau is expected to roll out the next phase of its self-regulatory privacy initiative on Monday, when it will launch a program to certify that online companies are in compliance with self-regulatory guidelines, Online Media Daily has learned.

The IAB, along with the other trade groups participating in the self-regulatory initiative, also is expected to announce that the National Advertising Review Council has tapped the start-up Better Advertising to help monitor compliance with privacy principles. Those principles -- which grew out of a task force of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Direct Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Council of Better Business Bureaus -- generally require companies to notify consumers about targeting, and in many cases, allow them to opt out; in some situations, the principles call for opt-in consent.

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In addition, the "power i" icon, consisting of a lowercase 'i' inside an open circle -- which was supposed to indicate when online ads were being served based on users' Web activity -- appears likely to get a makeover. Industry insiders say that some ad organizations were concerned that the symbol was too similar to other logos to be licensed. The slightly renovated version is likely to consist of an 'i' inside a triangle pointing toward the right, like a 'play' button.

The icon, initially developed by the think tank Future of Privacy Forum and WPP units Group M, Kantar Group and Ogilvy, is part of the online ad industry's attempt to curb the threat of privacy legislation by showing that online companies can effectively notify people about ad targeting and allow them to opt out. People who click on the icons can learn more about ad targeting as well as how to opt out of receiving ads based on their Web activity.

Web companies were expected to start using the icon earlier this year, but the initiative stalled after concerns were raised about whether courts would back the trade groups' ability to use the symbol. The current plan calls for the four trade associations to allow Web companies that are in compliance with self-regulatory principles to license the icon and place it on their Web ads.

For at least 10 years, many companies have used privacy policies to notify people about tracking and behavioral targeting, but those policies are often criticized as being too lengthy and dense to be effective. The Federal Trade Commission said last year that it supports industry self-regulation for now, but that companies need to improve their efforts to inform consumers about online tracking and how to opt out.

The icon created by the Future of Privacy Forum and WPP isn't the only logo that's being used to indicate online behavioral advertising is occurring. Truste also is testing its own separate icon.

4 comments about "IAB Readying Next Phase Of Privacy Self-Regulation: Compliance".
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  1. John Lovett from Web Analytics Demystified, September 17, 2010 at 8:04 a.m.

    It's good to see that the IAB is taking care to instill some self-regulation regarding targeted advertising. This will go a long way to educate consumers of their options and that not all advertising is evil.

    The Web Analytics Association is working on a similar "Code of Ethics" effort whereby web analysts who are responsible for data collection about visitors to web properties. The code will allow web analysts to declare their commitment to consumer privacy.

  2. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, September 17, 2010 at 8:45 a.m.

    I think "uhuh uhuh" below pretty much sums it up.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 17, 2010 at 9:14 a.m.

    Enforcement? Too easy to avoid. This self regulation will not work except for those who don't want it.

  4. Jules Polonetsky from Future of Privacy Forum, September 17, 2010 at 4:32 p.m.

    We at the Future of Privacy Forum are glad to see that the industry self regulatory efforts are progressing. Last year we were pleased to work with WPP and Professors Mary Culnan and Manoj Hastak to design and consumer test the early "power i" symbol. We had the benefit of input and direction from the FTC, the IAB and DMA, and many of our advisory board members. We hope our research (available at our site) helped make the case that it is possible to engage users about data use in a positive and meaningful way, by venturing beyond the privacy policy. But we then handed our output to the folks who have the really heavy lifting of gaining broad consensus and fitting a symbol into a robust self-regulatory program. It is the BBB, IAB, DMA, ANA, AAAA who have been doing the hard work of building out the requirements and operational needs of a full scale effort in this area and it is they who have worked to further refine the "power i" into something that will work for the industry program. As a think tank, FPF is here to continue to opine and to help propose ideas that we hope prove to be useful, but it is important to understand that the recent efforts here and the upcoming steps are being driven by the industry groups. We are hoping for their success and for the success of the TRUSTe effort and other programs. Whether you support legislation or self-regulation, positively and successfully communicating with users about data is the key privacy challenge that needs us all working together.

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