In the latest attempt to allay consumers’ rising fears about the massive amounts of data that online advertisers collect about them, an amalgamation of industry groups is planning to launch a new self-regulation effort meant to let users decide not to be tracked by advertisers.
The program will include the use of a new icon that is supposed to let consumers know that advertisers are giving them the chance to opt out of certain tracking activities. As The New York Times is reporting, the program is the work of a collective of advertising trade groups that are trying to regulate themselves, perhaps in the hopes of avoiding stricter oversight from federal regulators.
The program includes the use of an icon called the “Advertising Option
Icon” that marketers can place near their ads or on the Web pages that
collect data that is used for behavioral targeting. Users who click on
the icon, a lower case letter “I” inside a triangle that is pointing
right, will see an explanation of why they are seeing a particular ad
and will be able to opt out of being tracked.
Some companies may still serve less focused ads after a user opts out,
while others may stop showing ads to that user altogether. But
representatives for the trade organizations said the steps were not an
indication that the privacy debate had ended.
Consumers already have the opportunity to opt out of a lot of tracking and behavior-based advertising, but it’s unclear how many of them actually do so. The new triangle icon may help consumers recognize the chances to opt out more easily, but it’s likely to take a long time before it becomes well-known enough to make any sort of difference.