Archive for April, 2010

Escape from Bulgaria

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The CloudIt was always going to be risky to go to Sofia, Bulgaria for a meeting of Europe’s advertising self-regulatory organizations (SROs) as an unspellable Icelandic volcano was spewing ash over northern Europe. But Yahoo!’s International Privacy Director, Justin Weiss, our Policy Director for International Ad Policy, Deepti Rohatgi, and I took the gamble and found it well worth taking.

The SROs were gathered in Sofia to share their experiences of their recent work on digital advertising, including online ads and email. For some, which have historically worked on traditional media, such as print, public display, television, and radio, this is a fairly new area of activity, but there is clearly a great deal of expertise already, even in countries where advertising self-regulation is very new. Most impressive of all was the way in which they are able to share best practice and compare experiences on a continental scale, across myriad cultures and languages.

We were invited to introduce them to something even newer: online behavioural advertising (OBA). Justin’s explained the concept and the basics of the technology and the business model, pointing out that OBA produces ads that are less annoying to consumers and of greater economic value to advertisers. We spent a good amount of time talking about the privacy implications of OBA and what this meant for self-regulation, before Justin took them through the OBA self-regulatory efforts that are underway in the U.S..

For many, privacy is an aspect of advertising that they had rarely dealt with before. And certainly enforcement of self-regulatory commitments on OBA will entail some types of work that SROs have not traditionally done (e.g. audits of web companies’ IT processes and systems). So the topic was new and exciting to the SROs, who will be key partners in the development of credible OBA self-regulation in Europe.

Oh, and we all made it back home to Washington, San Francisco, and Brussels, respectively. Eventually. But there are worse places to be stuck than one of Europe’s capital cities!

director, public policy


Spring Cleaning for your “online life”

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

One thing on the top of many people’s to-do list this month is Spring Cleaning – the yearly ritual to set-aside time for heavy-duty cleaning and organizing of your home. While you are obsessing about purging your stuffed closet and organizing an overwrought garage, don’t forget that your house is not the only thing that needs an annual cleaning. The team at Yahoo! is committed to helping create a safer online experience, so we are encouraging you to add sprucing up your digital “house” to your list for Spring Cleaning activities.

A basic online safety foundation can be created by following these “spring cleaning” tips:

Keep your family safer online

  • Create a family pledge for online safety – Clearly state what should and shouldn’t be done online. Involve your family in the creation of the pledge. With this awareness and preparation, you can minimize any online risks.
  • Choose a safer online ID for your child – To use many sites, you must first register and it’s important to create a safe online ID. Remember that this ID is how the online community will see your child and you should choose a name that doesn’t reveal too much about them.
  • Use parental control software – Familiarize yourself with parental control software and any control features of your online service or ISP. There are programs that allow you to filter specific sites, a group of sites, or sites with inappropriate keywords in them. However, keep in mind that this software is not a substitute for true parental supervision.
  • Protect personal information – One of the most important things around online safety is safeguarding your identity by not posting personal information online. Personal details such as last name, address, phones numbers, photos, etc. can be used to identify you in real life. Learn more about privacy policies here.

Protect your PC and your Privacy

  • Update your anti-virus software – Another ‘cleaning’ task is to protect your PC by making sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date. If you don’t have anti-virus software on your computer, install it now! Most anti-virus software can automatically download updates, so check to be sure your software is downloading updates correctly.
  • Refresh your passwords - Protecting your privacy relies heavily on your password, as your password is more than just a key to your online account. Update your passwords regularly to protect your privacy and avoid someone impersonating you online. For example, if your password falls into the wrong hands, someone can easily sign your name to online service agreements or contracts, but merchandise with your credit card, lock you out of accounts, etc. Here are additional tips on how to protect your privacy and choose good, safe passwords.
  • Protect yourself from Phishing – It’s also important to keep your email account safe and sound from “phishing.” Here are additional tips and tricks on how to keep your email account from being phished.

Implement these good online habits into your spring cleaning to keep your computer and online identify safe. For more on ‘looking good online’ head over to Yahoo! Safely and Yahoo!’s Security Center.

Catherine Teitelbaum, Yahoo!’s Director of Child Safety and Product Policy

CLEAR – Control Links for Education & Advertising Responsibly

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

You may have already noticed a new link in the footer of each page across Yahoo! properties. “About Our Ads” provides consumers with more information about the online ad ecosystem as well as information about Yahoo!’s Ad Interest Manager, which empowers consumers to control their online experience. As you know, Yahoo! strives to maintain your trust and deliver the most compelling customized online experiences.

Starting today, Yahoo! will begin deploying CLEAR Ad Notice (Control Links for Education & Advertising Responsibility) on limited ads served on Yahoo! webpages. CLEAR Ad Notice is an industry initiative cooperatively developed by publishers, advertisers, and ad networks focused on increasing consumer transparency and control of online advertising.

On some ads at Yahoo!, the CLEAR Ad Notice will appear above ads as the word “AdChoices” and the “Power-i” icon – in orange. When clicked you will be taken to the same page as the “About Our Ads” link – providing you with an opportunity to learn more about the ad you are seeing and online advertising in general. Over the next few months, Yahoo! will be increasing the number of ads that carry the CLEAR Ad Notice. While you may not see the new notice right away, expect to see more instances of the notice both on Yahoo! and across the internet over the next few months.

Vinay Goel
Sr. Manager, Ad Privacy

Srinija Srinivasan Goes to Washington!

Friday, April 9th, 2010

I’m excited to be here in Washington, DC this week to begin service on the 2010 White House Commission on Presidential Scholars .

The US Presidential Scholars Program was established by Executive Order of the President in 1964 under Lyndon B. Johnson, to recognize and honor distinguished graduating high school seniors across the country. Before I even got to DC, it was already clear that meeting my fellow Commissioners and diving into the work of the Commission would be truly rewarding and affirming — I was up late the other night doing preparatory homework to get familiar with the program application process, and one of the young candidate’s applications actually moved me to tears for the sheer beauty of his writing!

So it’s sure to be uplifting to witness the breadth of talent and character represented in these outstanding students nationwide. This appointment also holds special significance to me because in 1989, I was honored to be named a Presidential Scholar from Kansas. Serving on this Commission 21 years later is a tremendous opportunity to participate full-circle in a program that gave me such a positive experience and fond memories.

In reflecting on my experience with the program in 1989, I’m particularly struck that these graduating seniors in 2010 haven’t known a world without the World Wide Web — when I was named a Scholar in 1989, we hadn’t yet known a world with it. I remember getting my first email address as a freshman at Stanford later that fall, and only being able to email the two or three high school classmates who happened to have email at college too. And it wasn’t until several years later in 1995 that I’d find myself joining Jerry Yang and David Filo as part of their initial development team of five people, in a brand new startup called Yahoo!.

I can’t imagine what these students will experience in the next 21 years, but I’m sure glad to be in their company as we co-author that future together.

-Srinija Srinivasan
Vice President, Editor in Chief