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Google's DoubleClick deal brings focus on privacy:

... Nearly lost in the news about the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's approval on Thursday of Google's acquisition of DoubleClick was another action by the agency: the publication of a proposed set of privacy principles governing online behavioral advertising.

The release of the privacy principles is an important and welcome step, said Peter Swire, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and a law professor at Ohio State University. Although some privacy groups blasted the FTC for approving Google's DoubleClick deal, the acquisition has helped place focus on the entire online advertising industry's privacy practices, Swire said.

"It's good that the FTC is shining a spotlight on this industry," Swire said Friday. "Online advertising is in its second boom. They're trying lots of new techniques; some of those techniques have privacy problems."

The FTC hosted a workshop on behavioral advertising and privacy in November. The agency's proposed privacy principles, a series of "self-regulatory" steps the FTC is recommending for online advertisers, come in part from that workshop.

Among the FTC's proposals:

-- Web sites that collect information for behavioral advertising should provide a "clear, consumer-friendly, and prominent statement" about the reason for collecting that data. Consumers should be able to choose whether they will allow that information to be collected.

-- Any company that collects or stores consumer data for behavioral advertising should provide "reasonable security" and should keep data only as long as necessary to fulfill legitimate business or law enforcement needs.

-- Companies should only collect sensitive data for behavioral advertising if they obtain express consent from the consumer. ...

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Comments (2)

Michael Zimmer on December 23, 2007 2:12 PM:

The FTC's proposed self-regulatory principles are a good start, but imperfect, as I outline a bit here. The most glaring omission is requiring user access to the data collected about her.

Jardinero1 on January 3, 2008 11:10 PM:

I have come to understand that FTC now stands for Fuck The Consumer.

It's not exactly a stretch to conclude that my personal information is also my personal property. Should these firms be allowed to use someone's personal info without paying for it first? If Google and DoubleClick can commoditize my info and sell it to someone else, then why is it such a leap that they should pay me for it in the first place?

I thought the FTC was charged with investigating interstate fraud. Isn't it fraud when a firm takes something from you whilst denying you a consideration and then demanding a consideration from a third party for the item they just took from you. Couldn't the FTC's legion of lawyers come up with that?

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