Online Privacy Legislation: What Do You Think?

The fact that Congress is in the throes of those lazy, hazy days of summer is not stopping its desire to delve into the issue of online privacy legislation.

The fact that Congress is in the throes of those lazy, hazy days of summer is not stopping its desire to delve into the issue of online privacy legislation.

According to a July 17 article in Broadcasting & Cable titled “Markey Pushes for Online-Privacy Legislation,” House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) signaled Thursday that Congress must pass comprehensive online-privacy legislation and that consumers should have to affirmatively agree before companies can collect surfing data for various purposes, including targeted advertising.

His thoughts were articulated during a hearing of the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee. In short, he believes customers should have the option to be tracked or not, since technology for tracking can reveal a great amount of personal information.

Robert Dykes, the chairman of behavioral targeting firm NebuAd, was also at the hearing. He defended his company’s practices by pointing out that the concept behind the NebuAd network and its tracking ability benefits customers by giving them ads they want while keeping their personal information secure.

For more information about this, check out Rob Yoegel’s blog post titled “The Sites You Visit May Know More About You Than You Think,” on his blog, Pub Talk, which appears on PubExec.com.

What do you think? Is it time for online privacy to be regulated? Let us know your thoughts by responding to this blog. We’d love to have an open dialogue with our readers about important subjects like this.

Consumers Know They Are Being Tracked

According to a recently released study by consumer privacy organization TRUSTe and global market insight
and information group TNS, consumers generally know that their internet activities are being tracked for purposes of targeting
advertising.

Are they OK with it? Not really. They study also revealed a high level of concern associated with that tracking,
even when it isn’t associated with personally identifiable information.

According to a recently released study by consumer privacy organization TRUSTe and global market insight
and information group TNS, consumers generally know that their internet activities are being tracked for purposes of targeting
advertising.

Are they OK with it? Not really. They study also revealed a high level of concern associated with that tracking,
even when it isn’t associated with personally identifiable information.

Behavioral targeting, which enables marketers to deliver customized experiences and improved marketing
metrics, also runs up against consumer privacy concerns and calls for greater
transparency around emerging tracking and targeting techniques.

Based on
the results of the survey, lack of transparency may factor into privacy
concerns. In fact, 71 percent of online consumers are aware that their browsing
information may be collected by a third party for advertising purposes, but
only 40 percent are familiar with the term “behavioral targeting.” In addition, 57
percent of respondents said they are not comfortable with advertisers using
that browsing history to serve relevant ads, even when that information
cannot be tied to their names or any other personal information.

Meanwhile, a majority (91 percent) of respondents expressed willingness
to take necessary steps to assure increased privacy online when presented
with the tools to control their internet tracking and advertising
experience, and this, accoridng to TRUSTe and TNS, suggests a need for added education, transparency and choices
for behavioral targeting. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) would choose to
see online ads only from online stores and brands that they know and trust
and 44 percent of respondents would click buttons or icons to make that
happen.

To the contrary, a similar proportion of consumers (42 percent) said they
would sign up for an online registry to ensure that advertisers are not
able to track browsing behaviors, even if it meant that they would receive
more ads that are less relevant to their interests.

What these results boil down to is that consumers say they want more relevant advertising, but don’t want
to be tracked in order to get it.

What is the key takeaway here? Transparency, transparency, transparency. Consumers today are more sophisticated and educated than ever before. They understand advertising, and in many cases, respond to it and even enjoy it. So don’t take chances–be a trustworthy and transparent company.