Posts Tagged ‘Center for Democracy and Technology’

CDT’s recommendations on targeting privacy: how does the PrivacyWidget compare?

December 7, 2009
In connection with today’s FTC Roundtable, the Center for Democracy and Technology released their views on a “comprehensive regulatory framework” for online behavioral targeting. I’m pleased with the alignment between the CDT’s recommendations and the features and services we are demonstrating at PrivacyChoice, particularly in the two key areas of Transparency and Individual Participation. Here are excerpts from the CDT’s conclusions that are most relevant to our efforts (emphasis mine):
• Transparency
o Consumers have the right to clear, prominent and meaningful notification about how their personal information is being collected and used.
o Notice should occur distinct from privacy policies and terms of service. Notice should be located on every Web page where such data collection or use occurs and should link to more comprehensive disclosures.
o To optimize the effectiveness of any notification scheme, an element of standardization in notifications and disclosures should be implemented.
o Notice that links to a trade association Web site is insufficient. Notices should link to information that describes the specific companies that are tracking the consumer, including any companies tracking the consumer through an advertisement, the companies that have contributed data about the consumer to behaviorally target the advertisement, and other data collection objects on the Web site the consumer is visiting.
o The content of disclosures should be clear and comprehensive.
• Individual Participation
o Every Web site where data is collected for the purpose of behavioral advertising should either provide consumers with a clear, easy-to-use opt-in or a centralized, comprehensive and easy-to-use means to opt-out of data collection and use.
o A consumerʼs choice should be (1) available for the consumer to view and change, and (2) persistently honored until the consumer decides to alter his or her choices.
o Consumers should be able to access, and delete or correct, data that is being collected about them and the profiles being constructed in connection with behavioral advertising.

The PrivacyWidget provides a good start on demonstrating how the industry can begin to fulfill these recommendations. Here’s how:

  • With the widget, notice can easily be placed on every webpage where data collection or use occurs, and can be clearly distinct from other privacy notices (websites can anchor it anywhere);
  • The widget automatically shows all companies present on the webpage (or website), which should include the companies contributing data about the consumer because those companies must be present on the page to leverage their tracking data by reading a cookie or IP address;
  • For each targeting company present on the page or the site, the PrivacyWidget automatically provides links to relevant privacy policy excerpts and opt-outs, without requiring the consumer to open a new page;
  • The user’s choices are remembered and available for the consumer within the same site and across sites; and
  • The experience integrates a browser add-on to “persistently honor” the consumer’s choices.

Later this week we will be opening up the PrivacyWidget for any website to install and start testing. The most important feedback will come from real consumers who, for the first time, will actually have enhanced disclosure and choice easily available within the context of the websites they use and value.