A Little ‘i’ to Teach About Online Privacy (New York Times)
Here is a story from a couple weeks ago that is worth a look.
If the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has its way there could be a big change to how companies show certain advertisements on their websites. The targets of the FTC are so called behavioral advertisements. Essentially these are ads that are triggered based on information that is known about someone when they visit a site. In most cases the information relates to a visitor's online viewing habits such as what sites they have visited, what pages within the sites they go to (i.e., what content they experienced) and how long they were in a particular area of a site. This information is primarily obtained and used by advertising networks that load ads on a large number of sites through the Internet. For instance, Google is an advertising network that serves ads on thousands of sites (including KnowThis.com).
What is actually done with the information collected is something the FTC has worried about for some time primarily because most web surfers have no clue the information is being collected. So to help protect against possible regulation by the FTC, an Internet privacy group, The Future of Privacy Forum, is proposing that a new graphic, dubbed the Power I, be shown when a behavioral ad appears. They are hoping advertisers will voluntarily place this in their ads as an alert to website visitors. We will see if that actually happens or whether it will take stronger measures from the FTC to affect how behavioral ads are delivered.
Most major companies running online ads are expected to begin adding the icon to their ads by midsummer, along with phrases like “Why did I get this ad?”
Should advertising networks be required to be upfront with the information and methods they use to deliver ads?
Image by The Future of Privacy Forum