Monday, 9 November 2009

EU privacy reform

Changes to EU privacy directives via the proposed telecoms reform will require publishers to gain users' consent before placing cookies on their machines for online advertising practices such as behavioral targeting, retargeting, and audience segmentation. This means that information may only be used a user’s explicit consent. The amendment that is part of the proposed EU telecoms reform states national governments should:

‘ensure that the storing of information, or the gaining of access to information already stored, in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user is only allowed on condition that the subscriber or user concerned has given his/her consent, having been provided with clear and comprehensive information’

This raises difficulties for the online advertising industry, where many businesses rely on the placing of cookies on users' machines as a means of generated tailored advertising. Companies that use cookies for behavioral advertising targeting such as Google, AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, and many advertising networks, would be forced to gain users' consent before collecting any data on user interactions. Cookies without direct user consent would only be allowed when they are "strictly necessary" to provide a service "explicitly requested" by the user, for example storing shopping cart information on e-commerce sites. Also see article from ClickZ here.

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I am director of the Media and Persuasive Communication (MPC) network at Bangor University where I also lecture on political-economy of the media. I am currently working on a book provisionally titled Deconstructing Privacy for Peter Lang and leading two empirical projects in connection with privacy perception and the use of new media for smoking cessation. I am author of Creativity and Advertising: Affect, Events and Process (Routledge, 2013); The Mood of Information: A Critique of Behavioural Advertising (Continuum, 2011); and Digital Advertising (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2009). Please contact me at if you are interested in Ph.D supervision or consultancy services.