FTC Studying Do-Not-Track List for Online Ads

  |  July 27, 2010   |  Comments

FTC assessing viability do-not-track for online advertising.

As the House inches forward on comprehensive privacy legislation that could have a major impact on online advertising, a Senate Committee met today to discuss online privacy issues. During the hearing, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon D. Leibowitz said multiple times that the agency is currently assessing the viability of a do-not-track list for online advertising.

"That's, sort of, one thing we're focusing on," said Leibowitz regarding a do-not-track program. It would be akin to an online version of the do-not-call list, which allows consumers to remove their names from commercial telemarketing lists. Leibowitz described a possible do-not-track program as a "Universally easy-to-use mechanism for consumers [that] could be run through the FTC or could be run through some sort of private entity." It is not clear how such a program would be implemented.

The FTC plans to unveil an online privacy-related report in the fall, and may have a conclusion about the viability of such a program at that time.

In the meantime, Leibowitz affirmed the FTC's overall approval of the online ad industry's self-regulatory efforts. He called the ad industry's coalition program, currently in development, "very promising...a good sign." Leibowitz also suggested that the online ad and media industries control their own fate when it comes to potential online privacy legislation. It lies "in the hands of the private sector. If they want to do a better job of ensuring [clear notice and choice].... It's in their hands to avoid legislation," he said.

The ball is already rolling in the House. A House subcommittee discussed two privacy bills during a hearing last week, considering topics including FTC rulemaking authority, the ability for private individuals to sue alleged violators, data sharing, and safe harbor for corporations. A draft bill floated by Rep. Rick Boucher in May and another submitted officially by Rep. Bobby Rush, both call on the FTC to be the regulatory guide and enforcement authority associated with rules put into place by the potential privacy law.

It's been two years since the Senate Commerce Committee held its "Privacy Implications of Online Advertising" hearing. Behavioral advertising was a hot topic during that hearing, and lawmakers then suggested that the FTC could be granted greater enforcement capabilities related to online privacy. The FTC has lobbied for more enforcement power, recently in conjunction with financial regulatory legislation, and has yet to be awarded the authority to bring civil fines against alleged violators of data privacy regulations.

Meanwhile Facebook unveiled a new Facebook Safety page yesterday, possibly in acknowledgement of the heightened government scrutiny and threat of privacy legislation. The company said the page would be "regularly updated with content, including tips from our Safety Advisory Board and other experts." A recent post to the page noted, "Did you know that Facebook has a Safety Advisory Board comprised of five of the leading online safety organizations in the world?"

By creating the page, a complement to a site section it calls Safety Center, Facebook hopes to calm growing concerns about privacy of consumers using the social network. Facebook CTO Bret Taylor was among those testifying at today's hearing. Representatives of Google, Apple, and AT&T also spoke.

During his testimony, Taylor mentioned new privacy controls offered by Facebook, and took care to remind lawmakers that they, too, benefit from Facebook, noting that over 300 Members of Congress use the site.

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!


Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?


    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora, www.agora-inc.com, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...