Online Behavioral Advertising

On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) hosted a workshop to explore the practices and privacy implications of comprehensive data collection. The event gathered consumer protection groups, academics, privacy professionals, and business and industry representatives to examine the current state of comprehensive data collection, its risks and potential benefits, and what the future holds for consumers and their choices.

In her opening remarks, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill indicated the agency was open to revising its consumer privacy framework if comprehensive data collection warranted heightened restrictions or enhanced consent to protect and inform users: “We know that comprehensive data collection allows for greater personalization and other benefits, but there may be other contexts in which it does not lead to desirable results.”

The workshop was one of five main action items adopted by the FTC as part of its March 2012 report, Protecting Consumer Privacy In an Era of Rapid Change.  In the report, the commission told companies that consent was not required for the collection and use of information that was consistent with a particular transaction or the company’s relationship with the consumer. But the agency said it needed more information to determine how this principle applied to technologies that could capture large amounts of consumer information, such as deep packet inspection (DPI).

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On Monday, the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program, which monitors compliance with the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, issued a decision finding that the auto company Kia had failed to adhere to the Principles.  The Accountability Program also issued decisions stating that Kia’s ad agency–and the ad network the agency had

The Network Advertising Initiative (“NAI”), a coalition of more than 80 online advertising companies committed to self-regulation, released a report this week finding that there is a high degree of compliance with the NAI’s Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct, which governs the use of consumer data for purposes of online behavioral advertising.   In particular, the report concludes