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Online Behavioral Advertising - "Do Not Track" legislation

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  • Peter Psarouthakis
    According to a Stanford University study by the Law School s Center for Internet and Society, as reported by the Washington Post, most anonymous third-party
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 13 8:37 AM
      According to a Stanford University study by the Law School's Center for
      Internet and Society, as reported by the Washington Post, most "anonymous"
      third-party Web tracking is not anonymous.

      There apparently are a number of ways in which a user's identity "can be
      associated with data that are supposed to be collected without linking to
      personally identifiable information." Privacy advocates are pointing to
      this study, led by graduate student and computer scientist Jonathan Mayer,
      as evidence that the industry needs Do Not Track legislation. The American
      Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Chris Calabrese, in a statement,
      is quoted: "The sharing of detailed Internet records with the government is
      certain to have a chilling effect on Americans' First Amendment rights to
      speak and pursue unpopular subjects online. These practices must be brought
      in line with the Constitution." A Federal Trade Commission report contends
      that self-regulatory efforts "have been too slow, and up to now have failed
      to provide adequate and meaningful protection."

      Senior Analyst Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation
      Foundation called Mayer's study as alarmist. "Internet users have more tools
      to protect their online privacy today than they had a decade ago, and the
      private sector is working diligently to strengthen and improve online
      advertising self-regulation."

      The ACLU has an ongoing congressional lobbying effort underway stating "In
      the same way that other industries are bound by basic privacy principles to
      protect consumer information, it is time for Congress to require that
      similar principles be followed with regard to Internet privacy." They want
      Internet users to be able to have clear notice about the data collection
      practices involving their information, and data collectors explaining why
      particular information is needed and be held accountable for how the
      information will be used. Users should be able to control what is shared
      and what is kept private. Their solution is a "Do Not Track" option, which
      would give consumers a universal way to opt-out of tracking, much like the
      popular "Do Not Call" registry that allows consumers to opt out of receiving
      telemarketing calls.

      Websites are widely sharing one's log in name and personal information
      (i.e., first and last name and birthday). The ACLU cited for example, when
      one views a local advertisement on the Home Depot website, the users "first
      name and email address is sent to 13 additional companies. The site
      okcupid.com packages gender, zip code and date of birth especially for
      advertisers." Advertisers then combine such information into profiles on
      individual consumers.
      Personally identifiable information is almost completely unregulated on the
      Internet which raises some fundamental privacy questions. Advertisers sell
      this information to third parties, called data aggregators, who in turn sell
      it to other marketers, employers and, the government. Since 2001 data
      aggregation companies have had contracts with the federal government and
      states to collect and share personal information about millions of
      Americans, including unlisted cell phone numbers, insurance claims, driver's
      license photographs, and credit reports.
      As reported by ISPLA earlier this year, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman
      Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has introduced legislation that would require
      websites to respect consumer choices about online tracking, although the
      committee's senior counsel, Christian Fjeld, said it was doubtful that the
      measure would pass.
      "I wouldn't be counting on us passing privacy legislation in this difficult
      political environment," Fjeld said. "Having said that, my boss, Senator
      Rockefeller, is still committed to working in a bipartisan manner to see how
      far we can move forward. And if it's not actually passing legislation, than
      it certainly [will] still entail conducting oversight and having public
      hearings on this subject."
      Bruce Hulme
      ISPLA Director of Government Affairs
      <http://www.ispla.org/> www.ISPLA.org
      Resource to the Profession, Government, and the Media on Critical Issues


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