EU blasts ‘deplorable’ behavioural ads

The European Parliament is to crack down on online behavioural advertising, demanding a raft of measures to combat what it claims is a “deplorable” practice.
A draft report says ads based on a Web user’s activity should carry a sign saying “behavioural advertising”and display a window explaining what information has been used to select the ad.
Search engines would not be allowed to sell brand names as advertising keywords without a brand owner’s authority and Web mail providers would be banned from displaying ads that are based on the content of private email messages under the proposals.
MEP Philippe Juvin produced the recommendations which have been adopted by the Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.
Among a raft of proposals, it plans to ban indiscriminate sending of text ads to all mobile phone users going past advertising posters equipped with Bluetooth technology without prior consent; outlaw the content of private emails being read by a third party for advertising purposes; and restrict online alcohol advertising to the websites of industry professionals, local authorities and tourist offices, while prohibiting intrusive advertising practices.
Advertising trade bodies such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau have backed an icon made up of an ‘i’ in a circle, which would function as a link to an information page, which would be far less intrusive than the measures proposed by MEPs.
The Parliament said it “deplores the development of ‘hidden’ Internet advertising that is not covered by the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) in the form of comments posted on social networks, forums and blogs, the content of which is difficult to distinguish from mere opinion”. The UCPD does not apply to consumer-to-consumer advertising.
The Parliament also voiced concern about the development of advertising practices that it regards as intrusive, “such as reading the content of emails, using social networks and geolocation, and retargeted advertising”.

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