We are pleased the White House is holding a privacy event today. It is encouraging to see such high level attention from the Administration as it helpfully looks to elevate the U.S. voice and perspective within the broader global discussion of privacy frameworks. It is critically important that modern privacy protection frameworks recognize that innovation in our global information economy will require thoughtful and responsible collection and use of data. It is also critical that self-regulatory structures play a large and growing role within these frameworks.
Let’s focus on self-regulation for a moment. Industry has made incredible strides in just a few years – implementing a code to give users contextual notice and controls over online behavioral advertising. This effort requires advertisers, publishers, ad networks and many other players to take responsibility and to accept a role in presenting consumers with an Ad Choices icon which, when clicked, tells them more about what is going on behind the scenes in ad delivery and gives them an opportunity to opt out of the use of their data for this kind of customized advertising. With a single click, the opt-out can apply to the vast majority of systems serving such ads today. No more need to opt out from every website individually or ad serving entity. This is a huge improvement for consumers uncomfortable with this practice. These icons are now nearly ubiquitous across the web, and certainly across Yahoo.com.
But industry players did not stop there. We have clearly and demonstrably answered the call from policymakers to bring more certainty to an understanding of the use of Do Not Track technology while providing consumers the services and innovation they expect and demand.
The Digital Advertising Alliance has introduced a new code on the collection and use of Multisite Data (http://www.aboutads.info/msdprinciples) which addresses these issues. This code has strict prohibitions on the collection, use or transfer of such data to determine adverse terms or ineligibility for employment, credit, housing or insurance. It further touches on sensitive data including the personal information of children, health records, and financial account records. It acknowledges there are some operational or systems management purposes for which companies will always need to collect data like fraud prevention, billing, or consumer safety. Yahoo! is proud to have been a key advocate for many of the provisions of this new code. Once again, industry’s proactive efforts on privacy have raised the bar.
As industry moves forward to address new issues in the marketplace through codes of practice, consumers benefit from timely implementation of broad-based changes that can be readily enforced by the FTC. We are gratified to see Administration and FTC statements embracing these self-regulatory efforts as an important step in protecting consumers’ privacy online, which signals that we are on the right track. While there is a lot to be worked out and the devil is always in the details, we appreciate the work they’ve done and the recognition that self-regulation has been working.
We understand the online landscape is constantly evolving. As an innovator in the online space, Yahoo! will continue to be at the forefront of industry best practices and self-regulatory initiatives. It is the best and quickest way to introduce protections into the marketplace without sacrificing innovation and value creation for consumers. We commend the Administration for its understanding that such codes are a key ingredient in a successful privacy framework for the information age. Yahoo! will continue to be at the very front of efforts to give consumers the transparency and choices they want while continuing to create innovative, free products every day.
vp, privacy, policy and trust at Yahoo!