Ad industry groups agree to privacy guidelines

Four trade groups, including the IAB, assemble a set of self-guiding principles for maintaining consumer privacy in connection with targeted advertisements.

A coalition of advertising industry trade groups have agreed on new guidelines for privacy related to behavioral targeting on the Web. Officially released on Thursday and expected to go into effect early next year, the set of principles concern what advertisers can do with personal data collected in order to zero in on target audiences.

IAB logo

The groups involved are the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

The guidelines take the form of seven principles, ranging from a commitment to better consumer education about behavioral targeting, to a focus on keeping potentially sensitive data secure.

"Consumers deserve transparency regarding the collection and use of their data for behavioral advertising purposes. I am gratified that a group of influential associations--representing a significant component of the Internet community--has responded to so many of the privacy concerns raised by my colleagues and myself," Federal Trade Commission (FTC) commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour said in a release.

"These associations have invested substantial efforts to actually deliver a draft set of privacy principles, which have the potential to dramatically advance the cause of consumer privacy. I commend these organizations for taking this important first step."

Lawmakers have paid close attention to the evolution of online behavioral targeting over the past few years, especially as the vast amount of personal data on social networks makes it possible for advertisers to target more and more specific niches. Some have even suggested that behavioral targeting should be opt-in by default .

Last month, several subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce hosted a hearing about behavioral ad standards, and executives from companies like Facebook, Yahoo, and Google testified . At least one of those companies has come out publicly in support of the new guidelines.

"One of the key strengths of the principles is the fact that they apply to a broad range of companies participating in online advertising--advertisers, publishers, and ad networks," a post about the new measures on Google's public policy blog read.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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