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Pressure increases online

As Facebook settles a $9.5m class action and shuts down its controversial Beacon marketing programme there are two consultations underway in the UK which may lead to further restrictions of online advertising and data collection.

Information Commissioner’s Office is drawing up an online code which is likely to cover collecting personal information, profiling and targeting and acceptable ways of offering privacy choices.

Somehow we don’t think the ICO will be approving the kind of stealth tactics that Facebook used to notify users about Beacon. A small warning message was displayed on a corner of the user’s Web browser but you had to be quick to see it because the box disappeared in less than 20 seconds, after which consent was assumed.

The Office of Fair Trading
has also entered the debate about fairness online as part of a wide ranging study on Advertising and Pricing. The study will cover data collection and use for targeted online ads. The document states:-

e may look at behavioural advertising where information on a consumer's online activity is used to target the internet advertising they see. We may also examine the practice of tailoring prices to individual consumers on the basis of their personal data.”

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