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TRUSTe Launches Behavioral Advertising Notice and Choice Program Pilot | Internet Ad Sales

TRUSTe Launches Behavioral Advertising Notice and Choice Program Pilot

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Changes in FTC Privacy Self-Regulatory Guidelines Drive New Consumer Disclosure Module

Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA – January 26, 2010 – TRUSTe, a leader in enhancing online trust between consumers and businesses, announced today the pilot launch of its Behavioral Advertising Notice and Choice Program with AT&T and Comcast web properties as anchor participants.

TRUSTe made this announcement before presenting the pilot program at the State of the Net Conference in Washington, DC, an event hosted by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee.

TRUSTe’s program, based on FTC and industry coalition self-regulatory guidelines for behavioral advertising or interest-based advertising, offers website publishers a “plug and play” widget that provides consumers with (i) an easily accessible and transparent notice of advertising practices, including retargeting, outside the privacy policy and (ii) the ability to exercise opt-out choices for the ad networks and other third parties that deliver ads on those sites quickly and easily.

“We’re happy to participate in the TRUSTe pilot program,” said Dorothy Attwood, AT&T Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Chief Privacy Officer. “The TRUSTe pilot demonstrates a significant step toward meaningful disclosure and providing customers with advertising choices – two principles very important to AT&T.”

“In the rapidly changing online environment, we want consumers to have consistent, clear notice about our website privacy practices and the ads they see. That’s what this pilot program with TRUSTe is intended to do. We’re pleased to continue our longstanding relationship with TRUSTe to help give our customers that confidence when they visit and use our websites,” said Gerard Lewis, Vice President, Deputy General Counsel & Chief Privacy Officer, Comcast Cable Communications.

“Through the Behavioral Advertising Notice and Choice Program, TRUSTe is extending our website privacy program directly to the consumer to provide choices for behavioral and interest-based targeting in addition to the existing requirements we have for user consent for personal information,” said Fran Maier, President of TRUSTe. “I commend AT&T and Comcast for their leadership in piloting this approach.”

TRUSTe created this program in collaboration with its Behavioral Advertising Advisory Committee, whose members include Microsoft, Monster, Comcast, AT&T and the Future of Privacy Forum and in collaboration with PrivacyChoice, an organization that develops technologies to make privacy choices understandable and actionable. “TRUSTe’s pilot will help define new privacy disclosure formats touching millions of consumers. We’re delighted to leverage our platform as part of this effort,” said Jim Brock, founder of PrivacyChoice.

"This important initiative demonstrates how notice can be made more relevant and immediate to consumers who receive tailored ads," said Chris Hoofnagle, Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology's information privacy programs and Senior Fellow to the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic.

TRUSTe and pilot program participants will advance their understanding of consumer preferences for behavioral advertising using engagement data generated from the pilot, which will begin in mid Q1 2010 and continue for a period of up to six months.

“Consumers will only trust behavioral advertising if they feel it is being done ‘for’ them, not ‘to’ them,” according to Jules Polonetsky, Director for the Future of Privacy Forum. “The TRUSTe program is an effective way to provide consumers with more transparency so they can better understand and control the use of behavioral advertising during their online experience.”

Publishers who participate in the pilot will display a TRUSTe or industry-coalition icon and a message such as “Your Info and Ads” on web pages where behavioral advertising or retargeting takes place. Clicking on the icon will open a TRUSTe-hosted pop-up widget providing consumers with a short notice about ads appearing on the site, available opt-out choices and the ability to leave feedback or file a complaint. The pilot will test icon placement, alternative notice and choice messaging and consumer engagement levels.

Source: TRUSTe

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