The UK Committee of Advertising Practise (CAP), which writes and maintains the UK Advertising Codes, has introduced new rules for organisations conducting online behavioural advertising (OBA), to provide greater transparency and choice to consumers. The new rules will be incorporated into the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing, which will come into force 4 February 2013, and will apply to third-party providers of OBA services and not the website owners.

CAP believes that by properly informing consumers about OBA and providing them with greater choice, they will be more inclined to receive tailored advertisements. The rules require organisations conducting OBA to provide a clear and comprehensive notice about what web viewing behaviour data they are collecting, either within or around the subsequently displayed tailored advertisement. The notice must also provide users an opportunity to opt-out of the OBA-related data collection. The rules will be enforced by the UK Advertising Standards Agency.

Organisations that use technology to collect and use information about all or substantially all websites that are visited by web users on a particular computer in order to deliver OBA must obtain the user’s explicit consent before collecting the data. CAP has also stipulated that OBA must not be used to target children under the age of 12.

The new rules are part of an initiative to establish a European industry-wide self-regulatory standard supported by an EU Industry Framework on OBA. Organisations that sign up to the Framework would be permitted to use an interactive icon that can be placed on advertisements. The icon is sponsored by the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA), which was founded by a European advertising industry coalition. The icon provides information about how and why the advertisement was targeted and delivered to the web user, and provides them with an opt-out mechanism.

The new OBA rules are separate from, although may assist in part with compliance with, the e-Privacy Directive requirement of obtaining consent before placing cookies on a user’s device, which is enforced by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office.