Consumer Groups Want FTC Investigation of Online Advertising

Written on
Nov 2, 2006 
Sarah Novotny  |

Two DC-based consumer advocacy groups: the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG), filed a 50-page complaint yesterday calling for the FTC to investigate standard online advertising practices, alleging that the current practice of collecting “anonymous” consumer behavior and tracking data abuses consumers and violates their right to privacy. The complaint urges the FTC to focus on Microsoft’s new adCenter data collection and ad targeting service while examining the ad policies of companies like Google and Yahoo.

“Unfortunately, over the last several years the FTC has largely ignored the critical developments of the electronic marketplace that have placed the privacy of every American at risk,” said CDD director Jeff Chester in a statement. “The FTC should long ago have sounded a very public alarm–and called for action–concerning the data collection practices stemming from such fields as Web analytics, online advertising networks, behavioral targeting, and rich ‘virtual reality’ media, all of which threaten the privacy of the U.S. public.”

In August, AOL unintentionally released the supposedly anonymous search records of 650,000 users. Based on the search data alone, a New York Times reporter was quickly able to single out and identify one particular AOL user. “Microsoft, like Google and Yahoo, is actively rewriting the rules that govern the online marketplace,” added Chester. “It is the FTC’s job to make certain that these rules reflect more than corporate self-interest. The public interest matters, too.”

Sarah Novotny is a contributing editor at Adotas. Sarah grew up in San Jose, California. Her educational and professional career have taken her to both Los Angeles and New York City where she received a B.F.A. from NYU. As a writer, Sarah has free-lanced for various publications focusing primarily on traditional advertising and media reviews. When not writing and editing for Adotas, Sarah is continuing her acting career in various theatrical and film/television productions.

Reader Comments.

Adotas should create a hyperlink to the source copy for this item, in this instance the related Complaint.

Posted by Derick Harris | 1:54 pm on November 3, 2006.

done and done, thx Derick

Posted by Editor | 3:19 pm on November 3, 2006.

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