Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

12/22/2010

Will FTC Privacy Restrictions Damage Online Publishing?


There already exists a good deal of privacy protections on the net. There’s opt-out choices, opt-in choices and other notices that one must give permission to in order to have your preferences tracked.

This tracking (through cookies is one example) is simply done so more targeted ads can be sent to you…You know, ads that you will be more interested in.

Now, I must admit, I’m conflicted on this subject because I DO NOT LIKE ADS!

However, I’m also a pragmatist and realize that paid ads make possible more free web content. And these paid ads might even monetize your own web site one day (if they don’t already).

Legal firm, Wiley Rein LLP, has this to say about the proposed Federal Trade Commission’s privacy framework for online eCommerce:

Privacy threatens online ads

Broadcasters may comment until January 31, 2011 on how the proposed privacy framework of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should be improved. Without changes, the FTC’s proposals could reduce online advertising revenues while not significantly enhancing privacy.

Broadcasters with websites, mobile applications or a social networking presence supported by advertising have a stake in this debate. The “Do Not Track” proposal-discussed in a previous article-is one among several concerns raised by the FTC’s recent Preliminary Staff Report. Without careful consideration, “do not track” could erode the ad-based funding that allows broadcasters to provide free or affordable online services that consumers want. Likewise, requiring third party marketing networks to “enhance” privacy could block customized ads on broadcasters’ sites that individuals find convenient, without materially improving on the notice-and-choice that such networks often already provide.

FTC actions like publishing the report have an outsized influence. They frame the national debate about privacy and preview the agency’s enforcement actions. Such “soft legislating” has already spurred industry to provide consumers with more notice of online advertising and opportunities to opt-out. So, while further formalities seem unnecessary to protect privacy, strong voices from broadcasters and others are needed to demonstrate the benefits online advertising provides to consumers and industry alike.

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