Online advertisers to police themselves

Online advertising

TEXT OF STORY

BOB MOON: Online advertisers will announce self-policing guidelines today for how they collect and use data about you and me. The announcement's aimed at heading off tougher federal rules being considered by Congress. Marketplace's Sam Eaton reports.


SAM EATON: The new guidelines address growing privacy concerns over the collection of personal information by tracking people's web browsing habits. The data is sold to advertisers who want to reach a more targeted audience. Starting next year about five thousand companies ranging from Google to Procter & Gamble will abide by a set of "self regulatory" principles.

One big change is that companies will now use ads or web links to alert consumers that they're being tracked. Another requires advertisers to get consent before collecting sensitive information like medical records, prescriptions and Social Security and bank account numbers. There's also a ban on collecting information about children under the age of 13.

The $8.5 billion advertising industry says the guidelines provide transparency. Consumer advocates disagree. They say self regulation is meaningless and what's really needed is Congressional legislation.

In Los Angeles, I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

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