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Privacy Remains Under Focus

March 4, 2013

Two months into 2013, it appears that online privacy will remain a topic of discussion for regulators and legislators at both the federal and state levels. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller has just re-introduced his bill calling for the FTC to create regulations for a Do-Not-Track regime, “The Do Not Track Online Act of 2013.” Senator Rockefeller has been a long-time critic of Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) and industry self-regulatory efforts.

In January, California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris issued a set of recommendations for privacy on mobile devices. Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who is also the current president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), announced the creation of a new unit in his office dedicated to protecting online privacy and will be holding a major conference on this issue in April.

In the face of this heated political environment, the Online Behavioral Advertising efforts of the ad community continue to accelerate significantly. Since its launch in October 2010, the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising has grown enormously. The DAA’s Advertising Icon is now served on more than a trillion ads per month. In January 2012, a site dedicated to educational efforts was launched by the DAA at www.youradchoices.com. Consumers can also decide to opt out of receiving OBA at www.aboutads.info on an across-the-board basis, or specifically from individual companies. More than 13.5 million consumers have visited www.youradchoices.com since its launch, and nearly one million have invoked the OBA opt-out mechanism at www.aboutads.info since its launch in October 2010.

The Alliance’s efforts were recognized in 2012 by both the White House and outgoing FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. However, the recent actions in Congress and at the state level suggest that this area will remain one of key importance for advertisers this year.

This issue will be discussed in depth at ANA’s upcoming Advertising Law & Public Policy Conference in Washington at the Four Seasons Hotel on March 19th-20th, where Attorney General Gansler will be a keynote speaker. Other noted speakers at the conference who have been highly active in the privacy area include Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) and FTC Commissioner Julie Brill.

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