Online industry fends off privacy curbs in US

29 June 2010

NEW YORK: A new system to identify privacy abuses by specialist web-tracking firms is set to be launched in the US later this year.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau, the trade body which boasts members including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft, is one of the main driving forces behind the scheme.

More broadly, this move is part of a wider push by agencies, online publishers and website owners to ward off proposed tougher regulation of the $23 billion (€18.6bn; £15.3bn) internet advertising category.

"What we are really talking about here is trying to make the interactive advertising supply chain much more visible, more transparent to consumers, so that they have a much better ability to understand what is going on, and act on it," Randall Rothenberg, the IAB's chief executive, said.

The IAB's latest platform is backed by the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Direct Marketing Association, which is lobbying hard against legislation.

Internet advertising companies typically gather information about users' web habits via cookies, in order to build profiles and target ads more precisely.

While marketers argue that such data is anonymous and cannot be traced to individuals, critics claim netizens should be offered the opportunity to give explicit consent to having their data collected.

Legislators are preparing measures to govern online advertising, and the Federal Trade Commission has repeatedly warned it will endorse such efforts if the industry fails to step up its self-regulation.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff