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Privacy, consumer groups want news laws to protect Web users

Grant Gross | Sept. 2, 2009
Organizations want to require Web sites and advertising networks to get opt-in permission before collecting personal data

The NAI allows Web users to opt out of behavioral tracking by 35 ad networks, including the 10 largest, said Charles Curran, NAI's executive director. Behavioral advertising allows Web sites to deliver relevant advertising to visitors, which in turn helps Web sites make money through ad clicks, he said.

Forcing Web sites to get opt-in permission before tracking user behavior would lead to much less behavioral advertising, less profits for Web sites and fewer free services on the Web, critics of an opt-in approach have said.

NAI's approach, which requires an opt-in only for sensitive information, achieves a balance between privacy and economics, Curran said. "We think we're trying the right approach," he added.

Targeted online advertising is nothing new, and many consumers want to see more relevant ads, added Mike Zaneis, vice president for public policy at IAB.

"It is naïve for consumer groups to claim that the delivery of more relevant online advertisements is a new phenomenon that has suddenly developed, thereby creating a new threat to consumers," he said. "The creation of a broad opt-in requirement for online advertising would be detrimental to both consumers and businesses. Consumers love the free services and content that online advertising pays for, and the industry principles strike the right balance of providing strong consumer privacy protections, while allowing industry to innovate and provide new and better products free of charge."

 

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