Back in January I wrote about several advertising industry trade associations coming together to impose self-regulation in an attempt to deter federal regulation of behavioral advertising under the Obama administration. I pointed out that the Federal Trade Commission had advised the advertising industry back in December 2007 that it were pushing the envelope on what the FTC considered to be reasonable behavioral advertising. It seems as though the industry may have viewed this as an idle threat under the Bush administration, but got wind that the new administration would be looking at the issue with renewed vigor.
Last week, the FTC released its Staff Report on the issue entitled FTC STAFF REPORT: Self-Regulatory Principles For Online Behavorial Advertising. The report succinctly defines the issues at hand and examines the stakes of all sides. Importantly, the FTC has refined its Principles for Behavioral Advertising self-regulation within the document.
These Principles, a summary of the issues and concerns surrounding behavioral advertising, are divided up into four key points:
1) Transparency and Consumer Control
2) Reasonable Security, and Limited Data Retention, for Consumer Data
3) Affirmative Express Consent for Material Changes to Existing Privacy Promises
4) Affirmative Express Consent to (or Prohibition Against) Using Sensitive Data for Behavioral Advertising
In other words, these are the concerns that need to be addressed in self-regulation. The FTC concludes its report by saying that the Commission staff will monitor efforts of the industry to self-regulate over the next year keeping an open dialogue with all parties involved.