FTC Sets Dates For Behavioral Town Hall

    August 6, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Google and DoubleClick better keep the calendars of some of their people clear for November 1st and 2nd, as the Federal Trade Commission followed through on its promise to schedule meetings about behavioral targeting.

FTC Sets Dates For Behavioral Town Hall
FTC Sets Dates For Behavioral Town Hall

Consumer advocates, industry representatives, technology experts, and academics will discuss the issues related to tracking people’s online activity at the FTC town hall meeting in the fall. Google’s proposed acquisition of ad server DoubleClick has alarmed many with the prospect of one company holding a overwhelming amount of personal information.

Three organizations petitioned the FTC in April a few days after Google announced its DoubleClick intentions. Those groups, all privacy advocates, want the deal blocked.

The FTC listed several topics that will be discussed during the town hall meeting in Washington DC. They plan to cover a lot of the basics, including the use of collected data, how well collectors protect consumer information, and if anonymous data can be combined with other personally identifiable data.

The answer to that last bit should bring the AOL Research incident to mind. A researcher posted thousands of anonymized search queries online, where a number of people and organizations grabbed a copy, just before SES San Jose in 2006.

A report at the New York Times showed how they could build a profile out of anonymized data. They located a woman living in the South based on the interests shown in her search profile.

The FTC has invited interested parties to submit requests to be panelists, and to suggest additional topics to discuss in the context of the town hall meeting. Requests need to be submitted electronically by September 14, 2007, to behavioraladvertising_requests@ftc.gov.

Requests will need to include a statement detailing one’s expertise on the issues, and their contact information. FTC will notify the panelists they select by October 5th.