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    New York Times: Four Privacy Protections the Online Ad Industry Left Out

    At the New York Times, Saul Hansell discusses new voluntary self-regulatory guidelines (pdf) on targeted behavioral advertising from a consortium of groups in the behavioral advertising industry. hese voluntary guidelines come after Congress held hearings and the Federal Trade Commission published a report on the issue. He notes four privacy protections “that the trade groups rejected but could make a difference.”

    Every ad should explain itself

    One reason that privacy policies read like mush is that publishers don’t actually know everything that happens on their sites. Each site might run ads from dozens of different ad networks, each of which uses its own cookie to track information in different ways. That’s why companies like Google and Yahoo have suggested that each ad on a page have its own link or icon that will take users to an explanation of exactly who is behind the ad and, ideally, a more precise description of what it does. [...]

    Users should be able to see data collected about them

    Google now will tell users what it thinks they are interested in based on what sites they have visited in the past. The Internet advertising groups rejected this kind of disclosure as a standard, arguing that it is too complex technically.

    Privacy advocates suggest that it is simply fair play to force companies that collect information about people to tell them what they know.

    For all four privacy protections and more insight, read Hansell’s full article.

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