Wednesday, August 08, 2007

FTC Announces Town Hall Meeting on Privacy Issues in Online Behavioral Advertising

The Federal Trade Commission will conduct a two-day “Town Hall” meeting on privacy and consumer protection issues raised by online “behavioral advertising” on November 1-2, 2007 in Washington, D.C. The meeting will follow up on a dialogue regarding behavioral advertising that emerged at a November 2006 “Tech-Ade” forum, which examined the key technological and business developments that are expected to shape consumer experiences in the coming decade.

"Behavioral Advertising"

Online “behavioral advertising” involves the collection of information about a consumer’s online activities—including the searches the consumer has conducted, the web pages the consumer has visited, and the content the consumer has viewed, according to the Commission.

This information is then used to direct advertising that reflects the consumer’s interests, thus increasing the effectiveness of the advertising. Some of these issues were examined by the FTC in a 2000 public workshop addressing the practice of “online profiling.” Technological advances and the evolution of business models have prompted concerns among consumer advocates, privacy experts, and others about the implications of online data collection and use.

Topics for Examination

The Town Hall meeting will raise the following questions:

--How does behavioral advertising work and what types of companies use this advertising?

--What types of data are collected? Is it personally identifiable or anonymous?

--How is the data to be used? Is it shared or sold? Can it be used for other purposes?

--How has behavioral advertising changed since 2000?

--What security protections are being provided for consumer data?

--Are online data-collection practices being disclosed to consumers?

--What standards govern practices related to online behavioral advertising?

--What changes are anticipated in the online behavioral advertising market over the next five years?

Interested parties are invited to submit requests to participate in panels and to recommend topics for discussion. Requests should be submitted electronically by September 14, 2007 to: Parties should include a statement on their experiences on the issues and their complete contact information. Panelists will be notified of their participation by October 5, 2007.

Written comments may be submitted via e-mail to: or by mail to Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room H-135 (Annex N), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Comments must be received by October 19, 2007.

The Town Hall meeting was announced on August 6. A news release with more information appears at the FTC web site.

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