Some of the advertising that is done online comes with hooks. Using a variety of technologies, some largely unseen, online advertisers can track online activities, sometimes in profound ways that consumers are not expecting. Not all online advertising has “hooks” that are problematic or that raise privacy challenges. But a type of advertising called “behaviorally targeted advertising” often does. Behavioral advertising has two key components: tracking and targeting.
Comments on EASA –The World Privacy Forum submitted comments today on the European Advertising Standards Alliance’s Best Practice Recommendation on Online Behavioural Advertising. Our comments focus upon three key areas: First, the EASA recommendation fails to recognize the protection of consumer privacy in Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) as a key policy goal. Second, the recommendation’s protections are narrow, creating illusory protections for user privacy, whether or not they opt out of OBA. Finally, we critique the oversight and compliance mechanisms, which are not likely to foster consumer confidence nor police the industry. Drawing upon the WPF’s 2007 report, The NAI: Failing at Consumer Protection and at Self-Regulation, the comments argue that EASA’s approach suffers from the same weaknesses as self-regulatory approaches deployed in the United States, and that European lawmakers should not replicate the failed American approach. Law students from the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic helped draft the comments as part of an ongoing project on consumer privacy and OBA.
Health privacy — The World Privacy Forum filed comments today about how medical records and other health information is intersecting with online advertising and online activities. The WPF comments were filed with the Department of Health and Human Services in response to its request for comments on personal health records, privacy, and social media.
Online privacy — A press release issued by Connecticut’s AG Richard Blumenthal revelaed that 38 states have joined a mulitstate investigation of Google’s Street View wi fi sniffing program. Blumenthal stated in the release: “We are asking Google to identify specific individuals responsible for the snooping code and how Google was unaware that this code allowed the Street View cars to collect data broadcast over WiFi networks. Information we are awaiting includes how the spy software was included in Google’s Street View network and specific locations where unauthorized data collection occurred. We will take all appropriate steps — including potential legal action if warranted — to obtain complete, comprehensive answers.”
Digital Signage Privacy Principles — The nation’s leading consumer and privacy groups released a set of baseline consumer privacy principles to be included in digital signage networks. The principles were released at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, where World Privacy Forum executive director Pam Dixon spoke about the principles to a large group of digital signage industry professionals.