Web Ad Regulations Get Mixed Reviews

17 Dic Web Ad Regulations Get Mixed Reviews

National Journal, DC, December 16, 2008
A trade group representing Google, Time Warner’s behavioral advertising subsidiary Tacoda, and Yahoo on Tuesday unveiled an upgraded self-regulatory code of conduct, which has guided Internet advertising providers since 2001. The updates come on the heels of increased scrutiny by lawmakers, the FTC, and privacy watchdogs. But critics argue the Network Advertising Initiative’s updates fail to adequately protect consumers because its member companies still rely on obtuse privacy policies and an antiquated definition of “personally identifiable information.”  The revisions neither ensure that financial-related information be classified as “sensitive” nor include strict enough restrictions for targeting Web users based on health concerns, according to the Center for Digital Democracy’s Jeff Chester. NAI’s update says its members will “continue their commitment to respect appropriate fair information practices” and to preserve a self-regulatory environment. But privacy advocates, who were slated to meet with members of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, said they would press for more government oversight of the industry. The Center for Democracy and Technology said the Internet advertising industry “took a meaningful step toward protecting consumer privacy” by updating its code of conduct but the effort “falls short on several issues, leaving holes in consumer protection that must be plugged by federal privacy legislation.” Like Chester, CDT’s staff was disappointed that NAI retained its definition of “opt-out.” In eight years, the group had time to develop an easy-to-use and accessible standard that honors consumer choices, the think tank said. “The 2008 NAI process epitomizes both the value and major limitations of industry self-regulation,” CDT Deputy Director Ari Schwartz said in a release. “A lot of the specifics in this case have been pushed to future implementations guidelines. CDT urges NAI to clarify those areas in the next three to six months instead of the years we’ve waited in the past for changes.” For the full CDT analysis, click here. NAI’s revised principles and background information can be found here.