I argued early last year that if behavioral targeting and tracking became too pervasive and/or aggressive we’d see some form of regulation from Washington. It’s coming. As the NY Times reported yesterday:
10 major privacy groups plan to demand new privacy legislation from Congress regarding online behavioral tracking and ad targeting.
The roster of groups is a who’s who in consumer and privacy circles: Consumers Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Federation of America, Center for Digital Democracy, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and others.
Among the things they’re asking for: No sensitive information (like health or financial information) should be used for behavioral tracking, no one under 18 should be behaviorally tracked, Web sites and ad networks shouldn’t be able to keep behavioral data for more than a day without getting an OK from the individual they’re tracking, and behavioral data can’t be used for discriminatory purposes.
Some Congress members have indicated they will consider such legislation in the fall.
These ideas will not strike anyone in Congress as unreasonable. Just as everyone under the sun is doing retargeting, I predict that some version of the ideas expressed in the second paragraph above will be enacted into law or imposed through some existing regulatory framework.
Get ready for it. All the industry can really do is voluntarily adopt some version of these ideas to potentially pre-empt their imposition from above.