On October 19, 2010, Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill indicated that the FTC’s forthcoming behavioral advertising report will recommend a self-regulatory framework, as opposed to new legislation, to help protect consumers’ privacy. Mediapost.com reported that Ms. Brill offered suggestions on improving privacy practices with respect to Internet advertising, such as by providing “consistent and simplified notice about online tracking and ad-serving,” and that such notice should focus more on the unexpected or non-obvious uses of data (such as an e-commerce company’s transfer of consumers’ addresses to shipping companies).
The FTC is considering the creation of a “do-not-track” system that would allow consumers to opt-out of targeted advertising, which FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz explained in his testimony before Congress earlier this year.
While Ms. Brill stated she was “encouraged” by the interactive advertising industry’s recent efforts to launch a new trade organization, she said the FTC will continue to assess the initiative as the program launches. According to the report, Ms. Brill said the FTC will look for clear and simple opt-out mechanisms, robust enforcement and widespread industry participation.
As we reported on September 30, 2010, the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC, David Vladeck, cautioned that while the FTC has always supported self-regulation and will continue to do so, he is personally “disappointed” in industry’s progress in implementing various proposals in the behavioral advertising arena. He urged industry to “get moving” so the regulators “don’t lose their patience.”