Interactive television technology poses a major threat to consumer privacy, charges the Center for Digital Democracy, an offshoot of Washington DC-based lobbyist the Center for Media Education.

The CDD expressed concern that the latest iTV technology enables marketers to ‘harvest’ data profiles on consumers' individual viewing and spending habits, thereby allowing the former to create personally targeted ads.

Says the consumer body in a report issued today: “The model [iTV companies] are following combines the worst aspects of the internet and mass media. We believe that iTV data collection practices represent a new threat to personal privacy in America."

The Center urges Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to instigate hearings on the collection of data and its marketing use by companies in the field.

But Ben Isaacson, executive director of the Association for Interactive Media dismissed the CDD’s report as “mostly fictitious”, claiming that many of its stated fears are already illegal, while others are “technically and financially impractical”. Advertisers, Isaacson argued, “wouldn’t do things to rile the consumer”.

The Center for Media Education is a national non-profit organization whose stated objective is to “create a quality electronic media culture for children and youth, their families and the community”.

News source: Advertising Age - Daily Deadline