13 June 2000

A move towards new voluntary privacy rules is set to emerge from negotiations between the Network Advertising Initiative, representing online advertisers, and the Commerce Department and Federal Trade Commission.

According to industry and government officials, there has been progress towards the development of new "principles" regarding disclosure to web-users of practices such as online profiling, allowing consumers to opt out via a single "gateway" page. NAI members have also committed to improve the quality of privacy policy notices available to consumers, along with better choices about participation in the opt-out scheme.

Although the principles are voluntary, once agreed by the parties and published by the online companies, the FTC will have the power to enforce them under existing trade-practices laws. "We're very pleased with the progress," said Daniel Jaye, NAI member and co-founder of ad-server Engage. Other firms involved in the talks include Doubleclick and 24/7 Media.

The FTC will make legislative recommendations on profiling, "after it has an opportunity to fully consider the self-regulatory proposals and how they interrelate with the commission's previous views and recommendations in the online privacy area." The regulator has already asked Congress to confer on it weightier authority to regulate internet privacy.

News source: Wall Street Journal