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FTC standards for Web marketers fall short, privacy advocates say

February 13, 2009|Bloomberg News

The Federal Trade Commission's new Internet-advertising guidelines don't put enough pressure on companies to protect consumer data used in targeted marketing campaigns, privacy advocacy groups said.

The agency released the voluntary standards Thursday to guide Web marketers' efforts at self-regulation. The FTC report urged advertising providers such as Google Inc. to boost online privacy by gaining consent before gathering personal data and limiting the amount of time they hold on to the information.

The agency is prodding the industry to beef up safeguards for Web users as companies such as Google, Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. compete for a bigger share of the market for search and display ads.

Although industry groups said the government should continue to let Web companies police themselves, consumer advocates said that the FTC needed to call for new privacy laws.

"The time for baby steps to protect online privacy is long past," Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington, said during a conference call with reporters. "The commission failed to protect consumers here."

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