back to article FTC issues ad-tracking guidelines

US consumer protection body the Federal Trade Commission has backed a tightening of rules on internet advertising and the use of personal information. It has proposed stronger industry regulation of the tracking of users' habits. Online advertising is often based on information about a user's browsing habits, but the FTC said …


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  1. adnim

    self regulation?

    In that case they have my implicit trust.


  2. Svein Skogen

    One single phrase springs into mind:

    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

    'nuff said.


  3. A J Stiles

    Can't believe there's no paid-for ad-blocking service

    I just can't believe nobody has yet cottoned onto the idea of selling a paid-for advert-blocking service. Basically, a Broadband Internet connection with a proxy server -- on an unroutable address, naturally, so invisible to anyone not using your broadband connectivity -- configured to block connections to known advertisers. It can't be that difficult.

    If you were really unscrupulous, you could even accept baksheesh from advertisers in return for *not* blocking them -- and then offer your customers another, "premium" (i.e. more expensive) level of service where even bribe-paying advertisers were blocked.

  4. Dazzer

    @A J Stiles

    I hope you're joking. Otherwise you're suggesting someone offer a service where I can pay them to only receive the adverts they want me to, as opposed to the current setup where I can receive the adverts people want me to for free. And who the hell is going to pay for an ad-blocking service over free solutions like Ad-block, Hosts files, Noscript etc. Crazy.

  5. James O'Brien

    @A J Stiles & Dazzer

    AJ great Idea want to go into business?

    Dazzer I think you forget how many (l)users are out there who would pay for something like this because they have no idea about Ad-Block let alone, "Whats a Host File?" It would be like shooting fish in a barrel. Wanna be VP of Marketing? :)

  6. Anonymous Coward

    self regulation?

    Anybody want to take a the other side of my bet that by the time these proposed rules get out of the FTC, that nothing will have changed? This is "consumer friendly"... Just about everything I've seen coming from the current administration is anti-consumer and gives big business (that is, friends of the administration) everything they want and sometimes more...

    Didn't even get a chance to take my coat off... and I'm out the door.

    Late Night Larry

  7. Peter Mc Aulay


    Sure it is. In this case the advertisers are the consumers, you are the *product*.

  8. Robert Dolezal

    Fatally flawed

    The last requirement premise is flawed, since "sensitive" information is legally in the eye of the beholder (or, in this case, the person being classified). The courts will have to determine what the guidelines for sensitivity are. They've already spoken on social security and credit card numbers. Will the courts extend that protection to transaction histories that, for instance, Amazon uses to know that you bought a book on a particular subject? Doubt it, though they might require that it be held in a secure manner (such as encrypted). Or, how about the result of an analysis of purchases, e.g. that many of the books you buy are about business. Almost certainly not. How about the aggregated activities of a group of past customers, rather than an individual? Certainly not--though the analysis becomes more difficult if you can't gather all the data together in one place and time to perform analytics.

  9. Jon Tocker

    @Peter Mc Aulay

    Regrettably, that is so true it's not funny.

    I want to start a campaign to restore the internet to its pristine purity as a realm for IT geeks and remove access to all marketing dweebs, spammers and any AOLer whose residential address is a trailer park.

  10. Gaz

    The trouble is...

    alot of sites rely on ads to operate. Blocking ads on an individual basis is fair enough but only sustainable because the majority of "lusers" don't.

    For all the complaints I not sure people would like the alternative - coughing up money or seeing their favourite sites go under.

    That said, I think what the FTC are pushing for is a step in the right direction. A lot of privacy concerns stem from the fact that we usually have no visibility over what our data is being used for.

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