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New partnership to give consumers control over online behavioural data

7th Dec 2010
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In a bid to head off growing scrutiny over online privacy issues, a group of US advertisers has set up a service to enable consumers to view and edit any online behavioural advertising information being held about them.

The move follows a call by the US Federal Trade Commission last week for the introduction of a ‘do-not-track’ option for such advertising. The consumer protection agency also proposed that brands make it easier for consumers to review the data collected about them.

As a result, the Better Advertising Project has set up a so-called Open Data Partnership, which can be employed by advertisers, agencies and publishers that use its Assurance Platform. The Platform provides online advertisers and publishers such as Google, AT&T and American Express with software tools to enable them to provide evidence of compliance with the Alliance’s best practice guidelines.

Participants can also use the ‘Advertising Option Icon’, which is intended to inform consumers about what online behavioural advertising is and what the data practices associated with the advertisements they receive are. Customers are also given the option to opt-out of receiving such advertising if they so choose.

But the Open Data Partnership takes the existing programme a step further. It will enable consumers to view and edit online behavioural advertising information held on them directly from an advertisement impression or from a publisher’s website that uses Better Advertising’s Assurance Platform without having to visit individual websites. Consumers will also be able to opt out of having to use any participating company’s cookies.

Mike Zaneis, senior vice president and general counsel for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, said: "Better Advertising’s Open Data Partnership is exactly the kind of initiative that will enable us to remain self-regulated as an industry. The more transparency we can provide consumers that enables them to retain control over their data, the more trusted our ecosystem becomes – to the benefit of everyone."

Organisations that have already signed up to the initiative include 33Across, Bizo, BlueKai, Demdex, eXelate, SafeCount and Turn. They promise to provide Better Advertising with access to information on how each unique consumer’s browser is identified within their systems and how and what data is collected and retained.

This information will be provided to consumers via the Assurance Platform, but Better Advertising has pledged not to collect, hold or use any of this data.

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