As discussed previously in Privacy Briefing, Issue 2, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), state legislatures, and U.S. Congress have indicated their interest in further understanding the scope of behavioral advertising occurring among Internet activities.
Recent Congressional hearings have focused on behavioral advertising by Internet service providers (ISPs) and third-party service providers affiliated with ISPs.
At a hearing on September 25, 2008, representatives from AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon Communications all proposed that ISPs should not engage in behavioral advertising without advance affirmative consumer consent. These representatives indicated that self-regulatory industry standards are in the process of being created.
If these standards are finalized prior to the commencement of the next Congress in January 2009, Congressional interest may wane. If not, anticipate continuing Congressional scrutiny, and possible FTC enforcement, related to allegedly deceptive and unfair activities.