A New Voice on a Complex Topic

Does your enterprise collect information on the visitors to your website?  Some Web firms track visitors’ online habits in order to create a more interactive online experience, including customizing ads to the consumer’s interest.  Internet service providers have called for guidelines to protect privacy online, including a requirement that consumers give permission before their Web-browsing habits can be tracked for targeted advertising.  The call comes at a time when online ads are expanding.  The U.S. market for online advertising is expected to top 50 billion dollars by 2011, more than doubling 2007 revenues, according to analysis by Yankee Group.

A new group is launching to help shape Web standards for how businesses measure, collect, store and use consumer online data.  Future of Privacy Forum aims to give consumers a voice in how personal information is used for behavioral-targeted advertising.  A group of privacy scholars, lawyers and corporate officials are launching an advocacy group today designed to help shape standards around how companies collect, store and use consumer data for business and advertising.

I recently completed a series of podcast interviews on Web privacy and behavioral advertising which is a hot topic in Washington today.  President-elect Barack Obama has selected privacy as one of the tech issues his administration plans to address.  Obama plans on appointing the first chief technology officer, who may be charged with making government data more transparent while protecting Web consumers’ privacy.

Congress is also examining privacy policies online.  In late September, AT&T’s Chief Privacy Officer, Dorothy Attwood, testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on AT&T’s newly announced Pro-Consumer Privacy Policies for Online Behavioral Advertising. In its policy, AT&T stated its customers will be required to give permission before information is collected and used for such services. Atwood discusses many of the privacy issues impacting businesses and the consumers they serve in a series of podcasts coming to SBTV.com soon.

The new Future of Privacy Forum, will be led by Jules Polonetsky, the former architect of AOL’s A New Voice on a Complex Topic. The organization, which is sponsored by AT&T, aims to develop ways to give consumers more control over how personal information is used for behavioral-targeted advertising.

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