The Internet Advertising Bureau, a digital marketing trade body, have launched Good Practice Principles for companies that collect and use data for online behavioural advertising purposes, which contain a number of clear problems:
"More relevant advertising is beneficial for both users and businesses: users discover more of what interests them and businesses find a better way to communicate with users."
If users want more relevant advertising, and this is to be achieved by allocating them to "segments", why not let them choose the segments they want to belong to? We do not accept the claim that behavioural surveillance for profiling is a service to users.
This is particularly problematic, as the sites using behavioural advertising are likely to be operating via cookies. Any ‘opt out’ would be stored by a cookie. So each time a user deletes their cookies, or changes browser or machine, they have to opt out. This makes opting out a repeated procedure, such that which would make all but the most stubborn user simply give their consent. This is not how consent should work, and a system that ‘pesters’ users into opting in is in our view an illegitimate attempt to substitute acquiescence for consent, whereas nothing but consent is acceptable.
It should be a cardinal and emphatic principle of any such guidelines that every user who is profiled (whether pseudonymously or otherwise) must have given informed prior consent.
For last weekend's Convention on Modern Liberty, we hosted a panel to discuss privacy in an age where the companies we as consumers choose to do business with online (as well as some we don’t) know more about us than ever before. The videos below feature, first, the opening presentations and, second, the Q&A that followed. Our panellists were, from right to left, David Smith (Deputy Information Commissioner (Data Protection), ICO), Iain Henderson (founder, Mydex.org), Jim Killock (Executive Director, Open Rights Group), Caspar Bowden (Chief Privacy Adviser, Microsoft EMEA), Peter Bazalgette (Media consultant and digital investor) and Wendy Grossman (journalist, blogger and folk singer).The presentations are also available to stream and download in the Ogg format. The Q&A is also available to stream and download in the Ogg format.