back to article Industry’s behavioural ad guidelines criticised

The trade body for the online advertising industry has produced guidelines for companies to follow to ensure that behavioural advertising does not breach users' rights to privacy. Privacy activists have said the rules do not protect users enough. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has published the guidelines and Google, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Big Red Flag

    ... What Google, MSN and Yahoo do is serve up behavioural ads based on the details of users passing through their (or their affiliates') web sites.

    What Phorm does is sniff a user's entire traffic at the ISP. This is a completely different thing.

    We should not be mentioning the four outfits casually in the same breath without making the distinction very clearly.

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Epic self interested fail.

    1. Illegal under RIPA.

    2. Must be opt in only.

    3. Opt out offers no transparency for non "tech" savvie users.

    4. ISP terms and conditions must be jargon free and obvious.

    5. As I will not be opting in, explain how my traffic will be kept untouched and unviewed from those that have.

    Not difficult is it?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I am quiet happy...

    for an internet advertising company to look after my personal details and I am sure that they will keep this information secure.

    Providing that I can have the CEO's testicles / ovaries to look after until such time as my data is securely deleted from their systems, and a signed certificate stating that, is provided.

    By the way, I get the body parts first, together with DNA proof that they belong to the CEO in question.

  4. Julian I-Do-Stuff

    Fool rushes in...

    Why not allocate a second port for non-private browsing? Leave port 80 as is so that the default is private, and require everyone not to "profile" port 80 traffic. Give browsers a big, obvious "privacy port switch" button/indicator so that if they wish they can receive all the numerous "benefits" of being tracked.

    A further benefit would then be that simply counting the 80/non-80 connections would allow everyone to see just how much people are wowed by the added value of having their online activity monitored.

    A stupid-still-half-asleep idea no doubt, but I'm only half way through my espresso...

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Ridiculous confusion of issues

    er... do you not realise that your information is already tracked by everyone advertising? Doubleclick - every time they serve you an ad, that ad checks your cookies, sends back a status update to home and shows the ad. These data are then used to serve you targeted ads and analyse the impact of the campaign.

    As for 'choosing which segment to be in', the guy's either a chuffing moron or is doing a Chris Morris style satire. "funny thing, our 'Johnny Big Balls' segment has 98% of the population in it, while the 'sad lonely singletons' segment has nobody. Weird, huh?"


  6. Anonymous Coward

    Are BT prepared to lose all their customers?

    I am terrified by all this spyware they want to inflict on us.

    But a BT Total Broadband Option 3 customer, you think they would be worried, but no they do not care - however as a BT Vision user I am a bit stuck.

    Since I started with BT their customer service quality has plummeted, the only good bit is that BT Vision support is UK based.

    Anyone know how to copy 70 programmes off a BT Vision box hard drive?

  7. dervheid

    Specific 'Opt in'...

    is the ONLY acceptable option.

    Not hidden away in a site or service T&Cs. It must be presented separately, clearly and SIMPLY defined (no fucking legalese mumbo-jumbo), so that there is NO DOUBT about what you are signing up to.

    At least 3, positive 'clicks' required to activate the 'service'.

    A confirmation e-mail sent, with SIMPLE instructions on how to unsubscribe from the 'service'. These should NOT be any more complex than the signing up procedure.

    A confirmation e-mail sent to confirm that also, with SIMPLE instructions on how to check that any cookies set by the 'service' have been deleted, and how to delete them if they have not. This e-mail also to confirm that ALL RECORDS held by the 'service' relating to the 'subscriber' have been PERMANENTLY DELETED from the 'service provider's' records, with the exception of basic contact details (Name, email, date subscription started, date subscription ended).

    Just how hard is that to organise?

    Or would that make things too easy for the suckers?

  8. Alan

    No Title

    "Secondly, users must have a choice about whether they receive the advertising or not"

    Funny, no mention of the fact that your data is still being snooped (in the case of ISP level snooping) even if you "opt out" from receiving the ads. I don't see most ads anyway (Happy Firefox / No-Script / Adblock user) unless I choose to.

    Using cookies virtually guarantees that everyone will eventually be opted in whether they want to or not (someone else in the family using the computer, clearing cookies, using another browser and forgetting to opt out, etc. etc. etc.) I should have to opt in if I want this nonsense otherwise my connection should not be profiled. End Of.

  9. Eponymous Cowherd

    Almighty FAIL

    Doesn't specify an explicit opt-in.

    IAB, more poodle than watchdog.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Weasel words

    "...provide a mechanism for users to decline OBA from that Member."

    I note they don't suggest an opt-out from having your data collected, merely from being sent targeted ads.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Thanks to the government sponsored economic disaster that has befallen us, companies like Phorm and Nebuad have a very attractive proposition to dangle in front of businesses that are desperate to shift their products in a shrinking market. Advertising spend is moving rapidly from print media and TV onto the internet where there is little or no regulation (sound familiar?) to restrain the whores of the advertising industry. When these same whores get into bed with the likes of Phorm, who knows what kind of genetic mutations they will spawn.

    Joe Bloggs, having had his data stolen, profiled, gift-wrapped and shoved up his ass will, in the short term, have no defence against this assault on his privacy. However, in the longer term the attractions of the Kamikaze strategy, as practised by NuLabour and other economic terrorists, may appeal to an increasing number of people. Simply by installing Adblock technology and blanking out EVERY ad they throw at you, it will be possible to shut down the internet economy for as long as it takes to bring these greedy bastards to their knees. If I'm going down then I'm taking you suckers with me.

    Really have to take my medication now and go for a lie down in a darkened room.

  12. psychochief

    The Internet Advertising Bureau wont bite the hand that feeds them !!!!!!!!!!

    as the title says, FFS its their own body we are talking about, not a legal eagle INDEPENDANT official watchdog, since when can ANY industry be trusted to police itself and NOT be biassed/influenced in favour of its own members that pay said associations wages/profits, FFS lets get real peeps :O)

    @Norman Andrews, your half right Norman but its a lot worse than you think, whether opted out or in, ALL of BT's traffic is redirected to the PHORM servers ( and basically the site you requested is MIRRORED from PHORM'S proxy servers masquerading as the original site you requested to visit, see here for simple diagram :- grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr :O)

    apart from the privacy issue, just how much slower is all this $hite gonna make the web, jeeeeeeeeeeeeez, BT's slow enough allready, so wheres all this extra bandwidth coming from to drive this beast ?? yep you got it, its you the punter that pays in the end one way or another, heads they win, tails we lose, its as simple as that, also who's to say its targeted adds that were talking about and not just adds from PHORM et al's highest bidders, hmmmmmmmmmm, whos to know eh ??

    see here for more on PHORM's previous errrrrrrrrrrrrrr, forms (pun intended) :-

    quote about PHORM :-

    "Company history

    In its previous incarnation of 121media, the Company's products were described as spyware.[13] As 121Media it distributed a program called PeopleOnPage,[14] which was classified as spyware by F-Secure.[15] PeopleOnPage was an application built around their advertising engine called ContextPlus. ContextPlus was also distributed as a root kit called Apropos,[14][16] which used tricks to prevent the user from removing the application and sent information back to central servers regarding a user's browsing habits.[17]

    In November 2005 the Center for Democracy and Technology in the US filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over distribution of what it considered spyware, including ContextPlus. They stated that they had investigated and uncovered deceptive and unfair behaviour. This complaint was filed in concert with the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Internet Center, a group that was filing a similar complaint against Integrated Search Technologies with Canadian authorities.[18]

    In May 2006 ContextPlus shut down its operations and stated "[Contextplus are] no longer able to ensure the highest standards of quality and customer care". The shutdown came after several major lawsuits against adware vendors had been launched.[17] Phorm has countered this with an admission of a company history in adware and the closing down of a multi-million dollar revenue stream as people confused adware with spyware.[19]

    Kent Ertugrul - "The problem for newspapers is that a story headlined 'Two Dead in Baghdad' isn't very product-friendly" said Kent Ertugrul, chief executive of Phorm, a behavioral targeting company working with British newspapers. "But if you know who is looking at the page, that's where the opportunity is."

    bahhhhhhhhhh, money grabbing $histers grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr !!!!!

    /rant over, im going outside now to have a good scream in the park :O)

    mines the one with the valium in the pocket O_O

  13. Anonymous Coward

    String, washing powder, what's the difference? We can sell ANYTHING!

    "online advertising"? Whatever will they think of next? You mean, that colourful wallpapery stuff that always surrounds the content I'm viewing?

    I notice it about as often as I notice my actual wallpaper. I pay it even less attention. I hear you can 'Click' on these things, but I'll never know for sure. I know that some of them "pop up" and force you to deal with them before GETTING ON WITH YOUR LIFE. Maybe they are harvesting data on response times to finding the 'close' button.

    In fact, clicking an online advert is like leaping from your sofa and rushing down the shops for some Persil because you saw an ad on the telly.

    Does this make me a bad citizen?

    BTW I am a subscriber to a popular subscription-only consumer's magazine. This month I read, with enormous interest, the results of a certain controversial survey of roughly 2642 members' opinions towards the implementation of a certain marketing tool into everyone's interwebs. (it would be very bad Form indeed to name names! Conspiracy Theorists! Try making an anagram of Tony Hart's best friend (No not Mr.Bennett, FFS!))

    Basically, there were 5 responses to a question, the MOST positive of which was 'Other / Don't know' (<10%) There was no reponse along the lines of "I have positive feelings towards this product". Respondants seemed to either dislike it, or hate it.

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