Companies Form New Industry Group for Responsible Personalization

In an atmosphere in which Internet marketing companies quiver with fear of being accused of anti-consumer privacy practices, another industry group has been formed to try to head off criticism and government regulation.

The Personalization Consortium, founded by 26 marketing, technology, and consulting companies, aims to develop guidelines for applying personalization technology in a way that respects consumer privacy.

Already the group, which held an organizational meeting in March, has elected officers. Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, PhD., of Peppers and Rogers Group, will serve as co-chairs and spokespersons for the group; Scott Martin of NextClick will be president; Marc Fienberg of Magnify, is taking the vice president job; Bonnie Lowell of Younology will act as chief technology officer; and Gayle Crowell of E.piphany is the secretary-treasurer.

The organization has also come up with some objectives for discussion. It wants individuals to have fair access to their personal information. The group also wants to establish guidelines for the responsible linkage of online and offline information, provisions for how individuals can change information, criteria for opt-in and opt-out privacy options, and templates for privacy policy disclosure.

In addition, the Personalization Consortium also wants to serve as a monitoring organization, making sure that companies comply with the guidelines.

Although these issues aren’t new, and there is no shortage of organizations trying to address them, there has still been no industry consensus on these hot-button topics. Currently, the industry is awash in consumer groups and industry groups that profess the same aims, but have radically different ideas of how they should be accomplished. The most widely-used monitoring organization, TRUSTe, has been criticized and for having inadequate resources to police privacy policies, and having little recourse when companies don’t comply.

Founding members of this latest attempt to address the problems include American Airlines, BroadVision, Chell.com, DoubleClick, eCustomers.com, Elity Systems, E.piphany, eSupplies.com, Exactis.com, Frequency Marketing, !hey software, I-Behavior, icontact, Individualize.com, KPMG Consulting, Magnify, Nexgenix, NextClick, Peppers and Rogers Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers, PrivaSeek, Servicesoft, SneakerLabs, u1.net, Wheelhouse and Younology.

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