The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) have published a new set of Good Practice Principles in relation to Behavioural Advertising, an increasingly popular way of targeting advertising to internet users.

Behavioural Advertising is where information relating to internet browser activity is used to target relevant adverts to potentially interested individuals based on what they have been viewing on the internet.

This so called web tracking software is becoming more and more mainstream, with high-profile organisations such as BT, in partnership with US firm Phorm, bringing in this method of advertising, there has been some concern that collecting and using such information will breach data protection laws.

In order to provide some reassurance to consumers, the IAB guidelines detail three fundamental areas where companies are required to act to protect the rights of internet users which many of the major providers, including AOL, Google, Microsoft, Phorm and Yahoo! have all signed up to, namely: -

Awareness - IP's have to make users aware that their browsing behaviour is being monitored and that it will be used to provide targeted advertising.

Opt-in/Opt-out - Companies using Behavioural Advertising need to provide clear information to allow the users to opt-out and, where appropriate, providing a system where the user actively has to sign up.

Transparency - There has to be clear and obvious information made available to users, both in informing them that targeted advertising is in operation, detailing what information will be used and what can be done to opt-out.

These guidelines are particularly timely considering BT plans to make Behavioural Advertising available to their users on an opt-in basis, placing the future of such a method of advertising, for the moment, firmly in the user's control.