House subcommittee tackles targeted ads

Today's meeting of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet will be worth watching, as an AT&T official is expected to testify in favor of stricter guidelines to govern targeted advertising practices by telecom service providers, according to The Wall Street Journal. Such a position by AT&T would be a departure from the thin line that most service providers have walked in pledging that they will protect consumer privacy while developing targeted ad programs, and therefore have no need for stricter regulatory or legislative rules.

The WSJ reports that Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chairman of the subcommittee, advocates tighter regulation on how consumer data is collected and applied to targeted ad program. The WSJ also reports that an AT&T public policy executive said that consumers don't understand how their profiles and other data are used in such programs, and that AT&T will get consumer approval for using such data and will offer consumers full notice of such programs.

That level of communication is exactly what service providers should provide, though most would say they can do it without legislative reinforcement. It doesn't appear that any of the major Internet firms are testifying. Will AT&T's testimony help guide new consumer privacy policies, or help show that the telecom industry doesn't require them? Stay tuned.

For more:
- The Wall Street Journal has this report

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