OFT to investigate targeted ads

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to launch an investigation into how the habits and personal information of web users are used to target Internet advertising. Competition regulators said they had been prompted to launch the study, which could ultimately lead to an industry code of practice, because of a need to “update the understanding of consumer harm that arises from potentially misleading advertising and pricing” on the Internet.

The OFT inquiry, entitled “Advertising and Pricing market study”, will look at a number of areas of online pricing and advertising including price comparison websites and the use of personal data in website advertising. “It will evaluate which advertising and pricing practices are most detrimental to consumers, taking into account the growth of the use of the internet for online shopping, information provision and advertising,” said the OFT.

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