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NEW ALLIANCE HOPES TO BOLSTER ONLINE PRIVACY

Source: Security Wire Digest

Posted on June 3, 2001

      Seven of the largest online advertising providers hope their new alliance to provide transparent consumer privacy protection will stem federal authorities from imposing rigid and expensive regulations.

      The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) will enable online consumers to opt-out of having their personal Web habits collected by e-commerce sites by filling out a single form. Once the form is completed, NAI will give the user a cookie that will instruct NAI-member sites not to collect personally identifiable financial, sexual or medical data.

      "Internet advertising is critical to the long-term viability of the Web," says NAI spokesman Jeff Connaughton. "Most content on the Internet is available to users without charge because of effective Internet advertising. We believe that these principles allow for the continued effectiveness of Internet advertising while safeguarding user privacy."

      The NAI member companies -- Adforce, Avenue A, DoubleClick, Engage, L90, MatchLogic and 24/7 Media -- formed the alliance to stem proposed congressional legislation aimed at making opt-out automatic and requiring consumers to make an affirmative choice to be profiled. The NAI worked with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for more than a year to develop the self-regulatory program.

      "We are making it as easy as possible; you can visit one Web site and opt-out for all seven companies with a single form and submit button," says Connaughton.

      In addition, Arthur Andersen Consulting, the independent accounting firm that will manage the NAI compliance program, is launching its own third-party compliance Web site that will field complaints about NAI-member Web site's failures to comply with the privacy principles.

      "If users want to opt-out, they can go to NetworkAdvertising.org," says Connaughton. "If users want to complain about non-compliance with the principles, they can go to the Andersen site, AndersenCompliance.com. These two new consumer tools illustrate that NAI is committed to addressing users' privacy concerns."

      Although NAI doesn't currently include penalties, organizers say a member could face sanctions for failing a compliance audit or for violating the group's privacy principles.




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