Is Self-Regulation Enough for the Online Publishing and Advertising Industries?

The Federal Trade Commission does not think so

The FTC announced recently that it believes online publishers and Internet advertisers aren’t acting quickly enough when it comes to protecting consumer privacy.

Due to this thought, the FTC released a set of guidelines(pdf) that they believe will protect online consumers more. These guidelines include methods for allowing consumers to opt out of being tracked online.

However, some industry experts are afraid this will hurt some online publishers.

If these guidelines were to become law, a national “Do Not Track” list may be created, similar to the “Do Not Call Registry for telemarketers.

A major issue to the FTC

Behavioral targeting is a main issue with the FTC as it uses information collected from web-browsing behaviors to decipher what advertisement to display.

Some industry members are standing up for behavioral targeting by saying it             can be beneficial to consumers because it helps in promoting the most relevant products.

What should publishers do?

As mentioned above, these guidelines released by the FTC are currently only guidelines.

If publishers want to comment on these guidelines, they can do so by contacting the FTC until January 31.

One thing many publishers are relieved about is that contextual advertising is deemed as “acceptable” by the agency.

Furthermore, online publishers should examine their opting out policies to assure the best treatment of their audiences. This type of self-regulation will hopefully bring more security to the industry, and leave no need for further government intervention.

For more on this topic, take a look at an in-depth article on the subject from eMedia Vitals.

And if you feel strongly about this subject, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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