Online advertisers and technology companies have been warned to act “quickly and responsibly” when it comes to privacy regulation if they are to avoid regulation.
The European Union is currently implementing the privacy and electronic communications directive, which sets out new rules for dealing with “cookies”.
Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, has told a gathering of marketers in Brussels that the industry should adopt four key principles of self-regulation to “enhance users’ trust” in the online economy.
These include giving consumers notice of personalised ads, an “appropriate form of affirmation” from people to be targeted using cookies, and a “user friendly way” for consumers to make clear their choice.
The commission’s goal is to improve consumer protection from invasive targeted advertising, including illegal cookies which “respawn” when deleted and “creepy” ads which are too personal.
Industry advocates have so far denied that the recommendations suggested consumers should have to opt into targeting, which is already commonly used online.
Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP chief executive, who also spoke in Brussels, said he is most concerned about the effect which regulation could have on innovation.
But the key question now is how to get the balance right between the protection of personal data and enabling innovation in advertising, according to Kroes said.
She maintains that what is helpful to one citizen is an invasion of privacy to another.
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