Congress Expands Behavioral Ad Talks, Wants Privacy Answers From Google, MS, AOL

When lawmakers start talking about your industry and company, you’d better listen. The Committee on Energy and Commerce is taking its investigation of behavioral advertising practices beyond NebuAd to include 33 Internet companies including Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Time Warner and Comcast.  The companies are being asked to detail their ad practices including opt-in or opt-out, what happens to data collected and what security measures are taken to protect sensitive personal data.   The move should be seen by the industry as a potential sign of more difficult times ahead for the bahavioral ad sector.  In recent hearings on the topic, the FTC concluded that the industry can regulate itself and laid out suggested guidelines for conduct.  This expanded scope of questioning by the committee suggests that lawmakers are not ready to adopt that idea. Personal privacy on the net is a tech topic Congress can understand and one which plays well in the media. And protecting the consumer is what Washington does. Don’t expect this one to go away quietly or soon.