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    IDG News Service: U.S. Lawmakers Call for Online Ad Privacy Rules

    IDG News Service reports on a hearing, “Behavioral Advertising: Industry Practices And Consumers’ Expectations,” held by the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

    Several Republicans joined Democratic lawmakers Thursday in calling for new rules to protect Web users’ privacy in behavioral advertising networks, although many members of a U.S. House of Representatives committee suggested the rules should come from the advertising industry, not Congress.

    Congress should first let the online advertising industry come up with rules to police the use of personal data collected as a way to deliver ads targeted at user interests, said Representative Joe Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

    But Barton also suggested new rules are needed. In many cases, Web sites and services are putting cookies on his computer without his knowledge, he said. […]

    Wednesday’s hearing was interrupted by a long series of votes on the House floor, but in written testimony, representatives of Google, Yahoo and Facebook said their companies are working hard to protect user privacy and make their use of personal data transparent. […]

    [Anne Toth, Yahoo’s vice president of policy and head of privacy,] and Nicole Wong, deputy general counsel at Google, both suggested that self regulation is working for the online ad industry. Most advances in online privacy protection have come as a result of industry initiative and self regulation. […]

    Privacy advocate Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, called for privacy legislation governing the use of personal data for behavioral advertising, saying that few Internet users understand the amount of information that’s being collected about them.

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