The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has made it clear that they do not approve of spyware usage for behavioral targeting. FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz has made behavioral targeting and spyware a top priority for his organization.
According to Business Week: How far he goes in regulating the practice could have big implications for a host of companies that depend on Web advertising and engage in some form of targeting. These include Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, which on July 29 announced a plan to partner with Yahoo in the area of Internet search. It would also affect the way legions of companies and advertisers craft marketing campaigns
Behavioral targeting has become more prevalent as it gets easier and cheaper to use software to track online behavior and then use the data to pitch Web users related goods and services. These ads are more likely to induce a customer to make a purchase or otherwise respond to a pitch, researchers say.
The pitches’ growing effectiveness is helping to attract more ad dollars to the Web. Researcher eMarketer estimates that advertisers will spend $960 million on personally targeted ads next year, accounting for about one-fifth of all display ads on the Web, up from $705 million this year, when they accounted for 15% of the total. The average Web surfer benefits, too: An array of free services, from Google’s Gmail to social network Facebook, are partly supported by targeted ads.
But the FTC and a growing chorus of consumer advocates warn that online advertisers are not always forthcoming about their use of targeting. And some are downright deceptive, Leibowitz said in an interview with BusinessWeek. “There’s a critical issue about whether consumers have notice of what companies are doing with their information and whether they’re making informed choices about
As an FTC commissioner since 2004, Leibowitz has been outspoken about the need for stronger protections for consumer privacy online-evidenced by his aggressive spyware and data-security cases, as well as public positions he’s taken on mobile privacy and online ads. In June retailer Sears (SHLD) settled an FTC complaint charging that Sears had failed to disclose the extent to which it was tracking the activities of certain shoppers, who had been paid $10 to download a piece of “research” software to their computers. The settlement forced Sears to end the practice and destroy all the data it had generated.
Do you agree or disagree? Perhaps, I missed something? Either way, I would just love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic… just let me know your alive!