Today a group of key trade groups released comprehensive privacy principles for use and collection of behavioral data in online advertising. These are self-regulatory principles to protect consumer privacy in ad-supported interactive media that will require advertisers and Web sites to clearly inform consumers about data collection practices and enable them to exercise control over that information.

Trade Associations Groups involved are the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB), and of course the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

"Consumers deserve transparency regarding the collection and use of their data for behavioral advertising purposes. I am gratified that a group of influential associations – representing a significant component of the Internet community – has responded to so many of the privacy concerns raised by my colleagues and myself,” says Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour.

What Google Has to Say

Google recently testified in Washington regarding privacy and advertising. Highlighted in the testimony were three main topics:

- Google's main advertising products and the benefits Google believes online advertising brings to advertisers, online publishers, and individual Internet users

- Google's approach to privacy, specific steps that the company takes to protect users' privacy, and the release of interest-based advertising

- Ideas and recommendations for how to better protect Internet users' privacy with respect to advertising, as well as more generally

You can read the entire testimony here (pdf).

In a post on Google Public Policy Blog today, Google Managing Policy Counsel Pablo Chavez talked about the principles and Google's own behavioral-based or "interest-based" advertising.

"When we launched our own interest-based advertising product in March, we worked hard to include several innovative features to give users more control and information -- including ads labeled 'Ads by Google,' a tool called the Ads Preferences Manager (which lets users view, add, and remove the categories that are used to show them interest-based ads), and the choice to opt out of interest-based ads altogether," says Chavez.

"One of the key strengths of the principles is the fact that they apply to a broad range of companies participating in online advertising -- advertisers, publishers, and ad networks," adds Chavez. "Of course, for any self-regulatory effort to be effective, there has to be some kind of enforcement process. Between now and early 2010 -- when the principles are expected to be implemented -- the Better Business Bureau and Direct Marketing Association, two of the groups involved, will work to set up that process to make sure it has real teeth."

The Principles

So what are these principles? There are seven of them:

1. The Education Principle
2. The Transparency Principle
3a. The Consumer Control Principle
3b.The Consumer Control Principle (applies to service providers)
4. The Data Security Principle
5. The Material Changes Principle
6. The Sensitive Data Principle
7. The Accountability Principle

I won't get into all of the specific details of each one here, but you can read the entire document here if you are interested. Either way, it is good to see that these organizations are taking consumer privacy this seriously.


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