Consumer Privacy


The news of Google’s intent to install a DNT button on the Chrome web browser, as well as the White House’s recommendation of a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” are certainly provocative and significant.  However, it is important to recognize that they are part of ongoing dialogue that hit center stage in late 2010 when the FTC proposed a framework for consumer privacy, and that this dialogue will continue for years to come.

The claims of Google’s intent to install a DNT button are aligned with existing browser-based mechanisms launched by Mozilla (FireFox browser), Microsoft (Internet Explorer), and Apple (Safari).  In other words, a majority of the browser market has already gone down the path of increasing consumer control over their data.

The Obama Administration’s outline of consumer rights to data privacy and control is a positive contribution to the evolution of data privacy.  First, the recommendation brings some—though not a lot—of definition to a topic rampant with politicized debates, subjective interpretations, and technical nuances.  As such, the statement of clear ideals will provide guardrails to this complicated subject.  Furthermore, it is promising that the White House supports a co-regulatory approach to addressing consumer privacy—i.e. the administration is not pushing for unilateral government mandates.  Lastly, the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) is positioned to represent the advertising industry’s interests in such a co-regulatory environment.  OMG will continue to work with the DAA and all stakeholders on this important issue.

While marketers should not be concerned about immediate implications to digital measurement practices, such news reinforces the need for companies to adhere to industry best practices surrounding consumer privacy.  Such practices include clear and transparent privacy policies, participation in the AdChoices program, and cookie/tag auditing practices.

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