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Privacy & Data

Self-regulatory Efforts of Online Advertising Industry Insufficient to Protect Consumers

December 7, 2009

Self-regulatory Efforts of Online Advertising Industry Insufficient to Protect Consumers
General Consumer Privacy Law Needed; FTC Needs Broader Rulemaking Authority

Washington – The Center for Democracy & Technology today released a report that examined the self-regulatory practices of the online behavioral advertising industry and found that the guidelines—despite some recent progress—aren’t strong enough to sufficiently protect consumer privacy.

"We’ve seen some improvements in technologies and self-regulatory efforts in the online behavioral advertising industry," CDT Vice President Ari Schwartz said.  "But this report shows that self-regulatory guidelines are still insufficient to meet consumers’ privacy expectations." 

To fully protect consumer privacy interests requires Congress to pass a general consumer privacy law and give the Federal Trade Commission broader rulemaking authority over consumer privacy in general and behavioral advertising practices specifically, the report says.

CDT’s report provides concrete recommendations on how to improve consumer privacy protections.  Those recommendations center on the application of the full set of Fair Information Practices (FIPs).

Consumers are best served by a system in which self-regulation and legislation work in tandem, and it’s time to build the framework of that system, the report says.  Congress and the FTC – via broader rulemaking authority – must step in to ensure that consumer interests are fully protected, the report concludes; consumers deserve no less.

The CDT report, "Online Behavioral Advertising: Industry’s Current Self-Regulatory Framework Is Necessary, but Still Insufficient on Its Own to Protect Consumers," can be found online here