Saturday, November 03, 2007

Most People are Unaware That They are Being Tracked on the Internet

Samuelson, Annenberg Report: Consumers Believe Privacy Policies
Prohibit Common Advertising Practices

October 31, 2007 -- In advance of the Federal Trade Commission's Town Hall on behavioral advertising, (“Ehavioral Advertising: Tracking, Targeting, and Technology.” The event will bring together consumer advocates, industry representatives, technology experts, and academics to address consumer protection issues raised by the practice of tracking consumers’ activities online to target advertising - or “behavioral advertising.”)
The Samuelson Clinic and the Annenberg Public Policy Center have released a report (PDF) showing that most consumers think privacy policies prohibit common online advertising practices.

The study shows that individuals do not understand the basics and legality of information collection techniques. In a new poll of California adults sponsored by the Samuelson Clinic and conducted by the University's Survey Research Center, 37% thought that privacy policies prohibit websites from analyzing the data they collect directly from users. When Annenberg explained the third- party network advertising model to survey respondents, 85% did not agree that a "valued" site should be able to serve clickstream advertising to them based on visits to other websites. The Annenberg survey also makes clear that many consumers do not understand or think through the privacy implications of sharing their real name and email address with a website. The report builds upon a joint paper released at the Federal Trade Commission's 2007 "Tech-Ade" event, and recommends that the Commission police the term "privacy policy," so that sites advertising the term provide protections consistent with consumer expectations.

The Behavioral Ehavioral Advertising: Tracking, Targeting, and Technology townhall meeting webcast is available and people are advised to submit a comment.

FILING A COMMENT— Deadline: COB Friday, November 16, 2007

Any person also may submit written comments on the topics to be addressed at the Town Hall. Comments may be submitted via e-mail to or by mail to Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room H-135 (Annex N), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Comments must be received by COB Friday, November 16, 2007.

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