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Web Advertisers' Trade Associations Put Forward Self-Regulation

 1:42 pm on Jul 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Web Advertisers' Trade Associations Put Forward [uk.reuters.com] Self-Regulation
Online advertisers are proposing a mix of consumer education, disclosures about what information is being collected and special protections for children and sensitive information in an effort to head off tough legislation.
Four leading advertising trade associations -- the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Direct Marketing Association, or DMA, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau -- drew up the "self-regulatory principles."

"People will be able to say 'Don't collect any information on me for online behavioral advertising purposes,'" said Stuart Ingis, a partner at law firm Venable LLP who worked on the principles.



 2:13 pm on Jul 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, called the principles "almost meaningless" and predicted that congress would pass legislation hemming in information collection by advertisers.

And that is the meat of it. Completely and utterly meaningless. This decision is no doubt being driven in the US by the FTC who have repeatedly hinted to business that they were unhappy with the existing system of self-regulation. In the EU things are harder for business.

This latest thing is pure lip service. A website about privacy for consumers...come on that's as good as the profile it gets given, and I guess it will be equal to the amount of profile given to the pages by advertisers with their "opt-out" cookies (if you can find the page that is!).

The bottom line is that your average joe doesn't want to have his personal data and habits interrogated. When you sit down and a computer and surf the internet at the moment you're sitting down with the advertisers around you. Now, most people tolerate and even enjoy advertisements, but there is a clearer distinction in offline media for people to judge when they are being sold to, and when they are not. Online there is a lot of grey. I bet if you surveyed people on what is gathered they would just switch off their computer.

Another consideration, let's say the advertisers (data collecters) need to sell up and they do so to company in a country which does not have a law on the protection of privacy. Like heck do you have much recourse. But if that data is tagged up nicely (for example a social media network) it might be possible for a business owner to dig some dirt on an up and coming politician, who at the age of 15 was a member of a Social Media Newtork concerned with something that could be leveraged negatively as an adult.

I don't think people have a clear handle on just exactly the extent to which personal data is being mined. Behavioural Advertising is in early days in terms of how to match the advert with the profile, but the data is being collected, and can be applied retroactively when they've worked out how to do it.

Fine you can mine it, if you tell me how you are going to use it, but you don't or you do with extreme contradiction. I've read many studies which analyze privacy policies of some of the biggest online "miners", and even on a very basic first parse content analysis they are not worth the virtual paper they are written on. How many times have you had to accept a privacy policy update in order for your to continue to use a service that you are subscribed to. Does the phrase, "Our policy may change at any time, you should check back periodically" sound familiar? Does that sound fair.

Bring on the changes. It's about time!



 4:56 pm on Jul 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Can't trust any organisation or association that self-regulates! In whose interests do self-regulatory bodies act? The answer can only be 'themselves'.


 8:48 pm on Jul 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's not completely meaningless.

I've had some experience in this in working in other industries. In a nutshell, this how the serious trade association professionals tell their membership what they had better get ready to do.

And, it sends a signal to the bad actors exactly what it is they are doing that is bad.

That is more useful than you might think. There are people in biz who don't understand what is appropriate and not. I do work with some web services for children and I have meetings with professionals who seriously suggest we do things with our db that they would be outraged if their kids were in our db. I've learned to smile and calmly say, "Yeah, but that violates industry standards." Which sounds better than yelling, "You can't be serious!"


 10:59 pm on Jul 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

There's a topical speech available online by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in which he states that:

"...the keystone of any reform must be to switch from self-regulation to independent, external regulation. [We] ...cannot operate like some gentleman's club where the members make up the rules and operate them amongst themselves."

The opposition leader agrees and states that the problem with self regulation is that "...we're locking out the public. It's the public who needs to be asked their view..."

Regulatory bodies, invariably working at a national or international infrastructural level, best take heed if they wish to understand, ride and wish for benefit from the mood of their customers.

Typical disclaimer - no political agenda is expressed here by the poster, just relevant reportage.


 7:27 am on Jul 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

You're right, in general industry standards are not completely meaningless. Equally a code of ethics.

However, in this particular sector of behavioural advertising they are meaningless because of the opportunity business has been given to make changes, and the fact that they haven't.


 12:55 pm on Jul 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

As there is no regulation what so ever at the moment, I welcome this first step. If it's found wanting, then, that is the time to press for regulation.


 1:04 pm on Jul 3, 2009 (gmt 0)



 1:52 pm on Jul 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't know any lawyer who wants to get a certified letter from their State Bar Assn.


 10:12 am on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ye, sure. But the Bar, along with other professional bodies, can chuck out members, and they tend to focus on protecting and promoting the good name of their respective profession.

Are the advertising bodies going to stop rogue advertisers from advertising, or collecting data?


 10:50 am on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just responding to Syzygy's very broad statement.


 7:20 am on Jul 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

"...the keystone of any reform must be to switch from self-regulation to independent, external regulation. [We] ...cannot operate like some gentleman's club where the members make up the rules and operate them amongst themselves."

So why has the Takeover Panel (until recently purely without legal authority, and AFAIK never having used their legal powers), been so much more effective at its task than the Financial Services Authority has been at its? Going further back, do you really think that brokers now (fairly heavily regulated) behave more ethically than in the days people mostly relied on "vobiscum meum pactum"?


 3:27 pm on Jul 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Are the advertising bodies going to stop rogue advertisers from advertising, or collecting data?

Great question. It's where you draw the line AND what you are willing to do about it. When you set up a boundary, you need to expect it to be tested and be ready to respond to enforce it. It's often not easy and it's not always fun. Good intentions are not enough, for example. Sometimes you have to say no politely. Sometimes you have to be more firm.

BTW: It's sorta like the mods here at WW. They do a great job of enforcing standards without killing discussion. But, it a good example of how it can be done.


 3:32 pm on Jul 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

vobiscum meum pactum

Did you mean meum pactum dictum (My word is my bond.)?


 9:56 am on Jul 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Correct Weeks.

I think I have remembered the meaning and mistranslated it back to Latin.

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