New York lawmaker wants opt-in online ad tracking

Proposed state Assembly bill would require Internet firms to get consumer permission before serving up ads based on their behavior and personal information.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills

A New York lawmaker wants you to have the choice over whether Internet companies can serve up ads based on your actions online and who you are.

Companies like Microsoft and Yahoo are already serving ads that reflect your interests, such as Web sites you visit, and even your geography. Behaviorally targeted advertising is the vanguard of online marketing because it can lead to more sales than random ads can.

Privacy advocates say that Web surfers don't understand how much they are being tracked online, and that if they did they wouldn't like it.

With this in mind, Democratic Assemblyman Richard Brodsky has sponsored a bill that would require consumers' consent before Internet companies could use personal information about them for advertising, according to The New York Times.

Further north, a bill was introduced in Connecticut that deals with data collection by ad networks, which serve the ads on other companies' sites, the article says.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has proposed voluntary guidelines that would have consumers opt-out of information gathering for advertising purposes. The Federal Trade Commission guidelines go further and say behavioral advertising should be opt-in for consumers.

Given all the concerns U.S. lawmakers and others had about privacy issues with Google's acquisition of DoubleClick, it's likely the matter won't be going away anytime soon.