Biz Groups: Mandate Will Undercut Self-Reg Program


Do-not-track legislation is unnecessary because current industry's self-regulatory program already calls for ad networks to allow users to opt out of online tracking, a coalition of ad and business groups told the Federal Trade Commission on Friday.

"Industry currently provides the type of uniform consumer choice for online behavioral advertising that the FTC endorses," the groups said in written comments. "The federal government should not undercut the industry's commitment to the program by creating a duplicative Do-Not-Track mechanism."

The comments were filed in response to an FTC report issued last December that sought comment on a host of privacy proposals, including whether the government should require Web companies to offer consumers a mechanism to avoid all online tracking by advertisers and their agents. Groups joining in the filing include the American Advertising Federation, American Association of Advertising Agencies, Association of National Advertisers, Direct Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, Performance Marketing Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.



A federally mandated do-not-track program "would reverse the substantial progress made in the last 15 months and could signal to consumers that they should not trust the business community or online behavioral advertising as a whole," the groups say.

The ad organizations also refer extensively to a new self-regulatory initiative that involves placing icons in all ads served based on tracking data. The icons, licensed by the umbrella group Digital Advertising Alliance, take users to sites where they can opt out of online tracking by 60 networks. "Dozens" more ad networks are expected to soon join the program, the groups said. Overall, however, around 300 ad networks are estimated to collect data that is used for online behavioral targeting.

Almost 300 comments were filed with the FTC in advance of Friday's deadline. One filing -- by a broad coalition of privacy and child welfare advocates, including The Center for Digital Democracy, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, Public Health Institute and World Privacy Forum -- focused specifically on online marketing to teens.

Those groups urged the FTC to say that teens should not be tracked online without their explicit consent. "New media plays an inescapable role in the lives of adolescents," the associations say. "At the same time, adolescents have unique vulnerabilities that can be exploited in the social and online context."


2 comments about "Biz Groups: Mandate Will Undercut Self-Reg Program".
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  1. Larry Allen from, February 21, 2011 at 2:38 p.m.

    I've spent 15 years helping to build technology that allows publishers and marketers to more effectively target consumers. Before the advent of behavioral technologies and cookie matching with online/offline data sources the targeting was very anonymous.

    However, today there is so much consumer data being passed around to multiple companies on a per impression basis it is mind numbing. Consumer privacy is a serious issue and we must provide consumers with the ability to consent to this type of behavior. I applaud the FTC for taking such an aggressive stance. Any third-party company that is using consumer data for targeting without Opt-in consumer consent directly shouldn't be in business. The world has changed, consumers are now in control of their media and their data is the last piece of the puzzle. Let's give them the power to decide who should have their information and we will quickly see what companies are adding consumer value and those that are just a drain on the system.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, February 21, 2011 at 5:41 p.m.

    Lame. Any system that has its design backbone "to allow users to opt out of online tracking" is a house of cards just waiting to fall. How magnamimous that they have decided that they will "allow" users to opt out, as opposed to recognising users rights to privacy and building a system that allows them to opt in. Get serious before your toys and the entire toy-box is taken away. Double opt-in should be the minimum requirement lest the shutters come down completely.

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