REP. BOUCHER ANNOUNCES DETAILS OF ONLINE PRIVACY LEGISLATION
In detailing the legislation, Boucher said, "Our purpose is not to interfere with legitimate behavioral advertising, but there is a great deal of concern from Internet users on how their information is being used."
The legislation will apply to all activities, online and offline, in which advertisers use information collected from consumers to target ads to the consumer's apparent interests. But Boucher said its primary purpose was to clarify the rules for online targeted advertising, often known as "behavioral advertising."
In his address to American Business Media, the global association of business information companies, Boucher said, "I personally like targeted advertising, and most of the products I buy are the result of targeted advertising."
Boucher noted that an article in yesterday's New York Times suggested that behavioral advertising was declining, possibly because of regulatory uncertainty. He hoped that his bill would provide certainty and thus encourage the growth of behavioral advertising.
The bill would initially require that all Web sites that collect information from consumers give consumers notice with respect to what information is collected, how it is used, who it is shared with, and the circumstances under which it is shared. Consumers would be given control over collection and use practices under an opt-out protocol. Boucher emphasized that under an opt-out system, the default is that information can be collected and used as described in the Web site's policy.
The general opt-out system would apply to first-party Web publishers – those who offer ads themselves that directly target their own customers. It would also apply to situations where a third-party advertising network is used, but the ad network uses information from the site's customers solely to target ads to customers of the original Web site or its affiliates.
Regarding advertising networks that gather information from consumers across multiple unaffiliated Web sites (known as unrelated third-party networks), an opt-in requirement would apply, unless the third-party network provided a series of special disclosures and choice opportunities to consumers. Specifically, to avoid the opt-in requirement, such an ad must include a link that takes a user to information describing how the ad was targeted to the user. The ad must also include a link taking the user to their personal profile held within the ad network and must give the user the opportunity to edit their profile. Lastly, such an ad must contain a third link allowing a user to opt out of data collection and targeted ads by all entities in the advertising network.
The opt-in requirement would also apply to the collection or sharing of sensitive data, meaning information about financial transactions or account numbers, medical history, government identifiers such as Social Security numbers, geographical identifying information, and information about children or adolescents.
Boucher said that his proposed bill incorporates what he called "best practices that exist today among those involved in Internet advertising." He noted that Google and Yahoo, for example, currently provide opportunities for consumers to register their choices with respect to targeted advertising. Boucher stated that his proposed bill would preempt state legislation on the subject, and would delegate civil enforcement to the Federal Trade Commission.
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Founded in 1906, American Business Media is positioned at the center of the global b-to-b ecosystem. As the only association focused on the integrated b-to-b media model - which includes print publications, events, digital media and business information - ABM delivers intelligence to industry professionals worldwide, including Madison Avenue, Wall Street and the Beltway. ABM's approximately 300 member companies reach an audience of more than 100 million professionals and represent nearly 6,000 print and online titles and over 1,000 trade shows, with well over $33 billion in annual revenues. For more information, visit www.AmericanBusinessMedia.com.
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