Behavioral Advertisers Need to Change Their Behavior

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Behavioral Advertisers Need to Change Their Behavior
Roll Call
By Jules Polonetsky
June 22, 2009

On Thursday, two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees held a joint hearing to discuss something called “behavioral advertising,” the tracking of users’ Web site visits and searches in order to deliver tailored online advertisements. Almost a decade ago to the day, I testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on the very same topic as the chief privacy officer of DoubleClick. At the time, I said:

“Consumers have the right to know what kind of data net advertisers are using, and they have the right to have control over that use. There are significant steps that industry can and should take to give consumers more confidence in and more control over their Web experience. Primary among them are notice and choice. Consumers need and deserve real choice. They need to know the type of data that is being collected about them and they need to have the ability to opt out, to choose not to participate if they want to.”

Today, I would admit to being less confident that old-fashioned notice and choice is still the right model. After years of working more directly with consumers at AOL, I am convinced that companies need to be more honest and open with users about how they collect and use their data.

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