Five Ways to Protect Privacy

for Digital Democracy
executive director Jeff
Chester is among a
number of advocacygroup
that have met with Federal
Trade Commission
chairman Jon Leibowitz
to talk about online
marketing and privacy

Chester said he wants
online advertising to
thrive. He cautioned,
though, “If George Orwell
were writing today, 1984’s
Winston Smith would
be working as a ‘doublespeak’
specialist crafting privacy policies and creating
self-regulatory regimes.” He offered up some advice
on how marketers should proceed:

1. Tell your users what you actually say to your
advertisers about how the profiling and targeting
process really works.
“There is a disconnect that is
unfair and deceptive between what companies say
in their privacy policies and pitch to their clients and
potential partners. Be honest about the ‘360-degree’
ways you engage in online marketing.”

2. Don’t collect information and target
consumers based on their interests in finance
and health.
“These two most ‘sensitive’ categories
should be opt-in only. When consumers go online
for loans, credit, mortgages and health concerns,
they require the utmost privacy. Although online
fi nancial, health and so-called lead-generation
advertising is big business, consumers should not
be forced to have their online financial and health
behavior stealthfully tracked and compiled.”

3. Racial and ethnic profiling data should also be
“Hispanics, African-Americas, Asian-Americans
and members of other minority groups are increasingly
the focus of a growing behavioral targeting and online
marketing apparatus. In the ‘offline’ world, we have
witnessed a disturbing use of racial profiling practices to
discriminate against individuals. In today’s online environment,
users are being identifi ed as being a member
of a racial or ethnic group without either their awareness
or consent. While we all want to see the growth
of diversely owned online publishing, it should not be
done at the expense of civil liberties in the digital era.”

4. Don’t use neuromarketing and other subliminal
and subconscious-based advertising.

“Fortune 1000 advertisers and online marketers
such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are using new
forms of ad testing and development involving the
latest tools of neuroscience . Neuromarketing’s goal
is to directly infl uence a consumer’s subconscious,
and when combined with the power of online data
targeting, off ers powerful — and frightening —
new forms of manipulation.

5. Users need to consent to having their
profi les be bought and sold on so-called online
ad exchanges.
“Selling off the right to target a
consumer online, via real-time auctions that happen
in milliseconds, is dehumanizing. Nor should
we permit the growing combination of offl ine and
online databases to be used for targeting, including
via new digital auction houses.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.