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US ISPs for opt-in ads

September 29, 2008

Verizon Communications, Time Warner Cable and AT&T have all told a Senate Commerce Committee that they support an opt-in system for targeted online advertising and pledged to hold to basic best practices.Opting in means that companies that want to track Web surfers' movements and use that data to target ads to them must get their permission first, rather than making it incumbent upon those surfers to opt out."Verizon believes that before a company captures certain Internet-usage data for targeted or customized advertising purposes, it should obtain meaningful, affirmative consent from consumers," said the company. To get that "meaningful" consent, it said, requires a) explaining to consumers exactly what kind of data are being collected and for what; b) treating a failure to consent as meaning no collection of data for "online behavioral marketing"; and c) consumers’ ability to easily opt out if they initially agree but change their minds. "Common rules are the only way to ensure that businesses compete on a level playing field," said Time Warner Cable.Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner Cable all said they do not now engage in targeted behavioral advertising, but if they do, it would be circumscribed by their pledge of protecting customer information, informing them of what they were doing and getting consent first.ISPs are hoping to avoid congressional intervention in the online-advertising market….

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