Advertising Federation Launches Privacy Initiative

The American Advertising Federation (AAF) launched what it called “a sweeping consumer protection initiative” designed to increase the number of small marketing and advertising businesses with online privacy policies.

The AAF will distribute a series of mix-and-match privacy policies to the 42,000 small business members in its 207 local ad clubs and federations. Also planned are educational workshops for club members in the top 100 media markets, with a goal of completing the first 20 seminars by the end of 1999.

“Big businesses are making impressive strides in adopting privacy policies that create an environment of trust online. This initiative seeks to insure that future problems don’t originate with small businesses that are not aware of the importance of online privacy policies or simply don’t have the resources to develop them,” said AAF President and Chief Executive Officer Wally Snyder. “With this program, we’ve done the hard work for them, and we hope this will increase small business compliance,”

The various policies are written for online shopping sites, communications companies, advertising agencies, travel agencies, consumer product firms, retailers, media companies and local ad federations, but they can be applied to businesses that offer similar products and services.

The simplified policies are consistent with consumer protection guidelines already developed by the Online Privacy Alliance (OPA), comprised of the AAF and more than 60 global corporations and associations. The guidelines identify criteria for an effective privacy policy, including provisions for notice and disclosure, choice and consent, data security, and data quality and access.

OPA will help AAF roll out the privacy workshops to many of its local ad clubs and federations by providing experts to make presentations to small advertisers, agencies and media companies.

AAF also is working with the Council of Better Business Bureaus to promote participation in BBBOnLine’s new privacy seal program. The seal grants trustmarks to web sites that have posted credible privacy policies and promised to abide by them.

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