U.S. Privacy Innovations Spread to the EU

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The Financial Times reports that in the EU, Yahoo will provide more information on its websites that shows how the data of users is used to target advertising, by including its “Ad Choices” icon to advertisements on pages such as Yahoo Mail and Messenger.  This is the same innovative icon that is now required by the self regulatory standards U.S. companies are following.  Yahoo was one of the first to test the initial “power I” icon developed by the Future of Privacy Forum more than a year ago, before it evolved in to the “forward I” now being used more broadly.  By clicking on the icon, users can get information on who placed the ad, the reason for why it appeared, and how to opt-out.  And Yahoo, DoubleClick, Blue Kai, Lotame and others are exceeding the current industry standards by showing users their clickstream profiles and allowing them to be edited. 

Interestingly, most EU data regulators would tell you that access to clickstream profiles and such transparency is obligatory under their law and has been required for a decade.  And there are many leading local EU companies doing behavioral advertising in EU countries.  The EuroPrise seal does a great job of scoping leading practices with its few online advertising seal holders, and the European Advertising Standards Alliance is working on guidelines, but most of the local EU advertisers are still working hard to catch up to the leading US practices. 

At a time when the U.S. is being encouraged to adopt more of the baseline protections in the EU Directive, it is good to see that some U.S. innovations are being looked to over there to better empower consumers when it comes to targeted adverting.