The Federal Trade Commission recently unveiled a revised set of principles to guide self-regulation of behavioral targeting. The report lived up to expectations, which has been centered on industry self regulation. Privacy organizations are up in arms about the lack of clarity and definition, and are clinging to hope that the Obama administration comes in and establishes more stringent guidelines. And if not handled through the FTC, there are various Congressional leaders who plan to propose legislation that further defines policies and procedures.
I’m in the camp that the industry can self-regulate. However, it only takes one offender to have the government change its stance, so each company in the equation needs to be diligent. Many of the privacy experts do not see any checks and balance measures with self-regulation which I disagree with. Everyone is accountable to someone. Networks, portals and publishers are accountable to the agencies, which are accountable to the advertisers, who are in turn accountable to their consumers.
The agencies and advertisers I have spoken with are very concerned with consumer perception and have been diligent about exploring behavioral programs. In turn, websites that rely on user traffic are also focused on ensuring a positive experience for those users.