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Legal Review: Industry Releases New Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising

1 Sep, 2009 By: Stuart P. Ingis, Michael A. Signorelli, Jeffrey D. Knowles, Venable LLP’s Advertising, Emilio W. Cividanes Response

In July, the various components of the Internet advertising ecosystem published self-regulatory principles for online behavioral advertising. The principles, once implemented, will provide consumers with transparency and choices with respect to the collection of information online for behavioral advertising principles.

These principles respond to the Federal Trade Commission's challenge to the business community to develop robust and effective self-regulation of online behavioral advertising practices. The associations that convened this effort are the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB).

The groups involved in and covered by the program include advertisers, advertising agencies, Web publishers, Internet access services providers, providers of desktop application software (such as Web toolbars and Internet Web browsers), search engines and online advertising networks.

The program broadly applies consumer-friendly standards across the Internet ecosystem to address consumer concerns about the use of personal information and behavioral advertising while preserving the innovative and robust advertising that supports the vast array of free online content, and it is expected to take effect early 2010.While these principles are broadly applied, they do not apply a single, one-size-fits-all standard to the industry.

The principles take into consideration the nature of an entity's online activities, applying specific notice and choice obligations based on the role or roles an entity undertakes in online behavioral advertising. This approach has the benefits of providing for continued delivery of advertising that is relevant for individual consumers and useful for advertisers, while at the same time protecting information and giving consumers a greater degree of understanding about and control over the collection and use of the data used to deliver them relevant advertising.

The below principles have been well received by a wide variety of businesses, policymakers and consumer advocates, all indicating that the principles — when fully implemented — will provide significant new transparency and choices that empower consumers and businesses.

Jeffrey D. Knowles is chair of the advertising, marketing and new media practice at Washington, D.C.-based Venable. Emilio W. Cividanes and Stuart P. Ingis are partners and Michael A. Signorelli is an associate at the firm. They can be reached at (202) 344-4000.

About the Author: Stuart P. Ingis

About the Author: Michael A. Signorelli

About the Author: Jeffrey D. Knowles

Jeffrey D. Knowles

About the Author: Emilio W. Cividanes

Jeffrey D. Knowles

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