ANA Seeks Comment on FTC Draft Privacy Principles

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is focusing considerable attention on online behavioral advertising - the tracking of a consumer's online activities in order to deliver advertising targeted to that individual consumer's interests.  We need your help in responding to a staff draft of privacy principles governing the practice of online behavioral advertising.

The Commission held a two-day town hall meeting last November focusing on possible privacy issues raised by online behavioral advertising.  At that meeting, a coalition of privacy and advocacy groups proposed a "Do Not Track" registry, similar to the FTC's "Do Not Call" registry for telemarketing.  In addition, Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the Telecommunications Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called on the FTC to investigate online tracking of consumers.

On December 20th, the FTC released a staff draft of self-regulatory principles to govern the practice of online behavioral advertising.  The FTC draft principles address four specific areas:

  • Transparency and consumer control
  • Reasonable security and limited data retention for consumer data
  • Affirmative express consent for material changes to existing privacy promises
  • Affirmative express consent to (or a prohibition against) using sensitive data for behavioral advertising

The FTC draft also calls for more information on using tracking data for purposes other than behavioral advertising.

ANA is working with a coalition of companies and industry groups to file comments with the FTC and to demonstrate the problems with a Do Not Track regime.  Stu Ingis, a partner with the Venable law firm, is leading that effort.  The FTC recently extended the deadline for comments on the draft privacy principles to April 11.

It would be very helpful if you would review the FTC draft and submit any comments to us.

This is a critical bottom-line issue for all marketers, who face a fragmented media landscape and want to better target their ads to reach the right consumer at the right time with the right message.  Doing that effectively requires information.  If unreasonable rules on the collection and use of information are imposed by the government, marketers will face the worst of both worlds - a fragmented media marketplace and the inability to target consumers.  This will assure an inefficient marketplace that can only reach consumers with a barrage of irrelevant ads.

If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Dan Jaffe ( or Keith Scarborough ( in ANA's Washington, DC office at (202) 296-1883.