The Legality (or not) of Behaviour Targeting
People have an obligation to protect themselves with privacy settings (Catherine Ferguson)
Can You Really Complain about Behavioural Marketing if You haven’t Checked Your Privacy Settings
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has reminded firms of their legal obligation to keep customers informed of what data is being held on them.
Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, pointed out that people have the right to know how their personal details are being distributed. Internet marketers fear this will have an impact on their operations, especially those who opt for behavioural advertising techniques.
However, the ICO has determined that there is nothing wrong with behavioural targeting, providing people have the opportunity to opt out of it. Marketers are not exempt from the Data Protection Act (DPA), so its principles must be applied at all times. The DPA is not designed to be either restrictive or intrusive, but rather to encourage best practice among companies.
Mr Graham commented: “Individuals can take control by checking their privacy settings and being careful about the amount of personal details they post to social networking sites and elsewhere online.” He added that organisations are required to be transparent in order to give people the opportunity to make these privacy choices.
Firms will find they earn the trust of internet users by proving themselves to be reliable at storing information, Mr Graham suggested, as misleading the public can prove disastrous for relations. Therefore being open about who can see and access information is of utmost importance, the information commissioner added.
Figures from the UK Online Measurement Company show the size of the UK internet audience grew by five per cent from 36.9 million people in May 2009, to 38.8 million people in May 2010. People over 50 years old were responsible for the majority of the increase in the numbers of Britons using the internet over the last year, as of the 1.9 million new Britons using the internet, one million (53 per cent) were at least of this age.
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