Consumer Watchdog Calls for Federal Action on Web Advertising

Internet-Retailer-logoConsumer Watchdog slams ad industry’s self-regulation effort.

Consumer Watchdog today called for a federal law that would enable online shoppers to opt out of receiving ads based on their online behavior. The consumer advocacy group said an attempt by the digital advertising industry to self-regulate such marketing efforts fails to protect consumers’ online privacy.

The call comes on the day that trade groups such as the Direct Marketing Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau start to require their members to comply with the self-regulation program.

The Advertising Option program was announced in October 2010 by trade groups that include the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Association of National Advertisers the American Advertising Federation and the Direct Marketing Association. The trade groups say that by self-regulating, the direct marketing industry can take action more quickly and respond to consumer needs better than can the U.S. government.

“Self-regulatory programs are inherently far more adaptable than inflexible technology mandates, especially those imposed by a federal government with no expertise in managing complex, continually evolving technological systems,” says Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau. “Not a single instance of consumer harm relating to online advertising relevance has been identified by any organization. If there had been, IAB and our self-regulatory partners would be the first to call for severe penalties and aggressive enforcement.”

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