EU MPs moot laws to curb online marketing tactics

The European Parliament is to consider statutory controls for online marketing, and in particular behavioural targeting – a growing online trend that tracks website behaviour for advertising purposes.

It is understood there are growing concerns that behavioural targeting could breach privacy rights. The calls will be made at a European Parliament hearing next Monday, which will look into privacy issues and how content can be tailored to a user based on their previous online behaviour.

A spokesman for the World Federation of Advertisers says: “The threat of increased regulation on online marketing is looming large and next week could see some MEPs and consumer groups voicing their concerns about online advertising practices.”

There have been growing concerns over the safeguarding of consumer information following the merger of Google and DoubleClick and the “extensive” data collection reach that has resulted.

The European Parliament hearing will be led by the Committee on Civil Liberties and chaired by Dutch MEP Sophia in‘t Veld, and is expected to be attended by Yahoo!, Google and AOL.

The European hearing is also expected to set the tone for a revision of the European Union’s ePrivacy 2002 Directive.

The Directive will set specific limits on how personal data can be stored and used, particularly when it comes to e-mail marketing.

Incorporated Society for British Advertisers’ director of public affairs Ian Twinn says: “Online advertising is expected to come under close scrutiny from regulators if it doesn’t effectively self-regulate itself. But to my mind any statutory approach will be ill-advised, because online marketing should be seen as a global rather than simply a European or a regional issue.”

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