It looks like the Internet marketing industry could be staring at an age of government regulation and oversight that could change online advertising in major ways. While this kind of news should come as no surprise based on the new age of government intervention in business it is still enough to make even the most seasoned online marketer take notice.
The New York Times tells of how things could look very different for the online advertisers in the future
The new head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, David C. Vladeck, says it is time for that to change. In an interview, Mr. Vladeck outlined plans that could upset the online advertising ecosystem. Privacy policies have become useless, the commission’s standards for the cases it reviews are too narrow, and some online tracking is “Orwellian,” Mr. Vladeck said.
Privacy is a serious matter for sure and it should be. Vladeck appears to be on a fast track, however, to creating sweeping change if he gets his wish.
In June, the commission settled a case with Sears that was a warning shot to companies that thought their privacy policies protected them. In just over six weeks on the job, he has asked Congress for a bigger budget and for a streamlined way to create regulations. And he said he would hire technologists to help analyze online marketers’ tracking.
“These are pretty aggressive moves for an agency of a new administration,” said Charles Kennedy, who handles privacy cases at Morrison & Foerster.
Experts are calling for caution as sweeping change could upset the Internet economy. Considering the fact that the Internet is one of the few industries that is performing well in the current economy would it be prudent to just come in after 8 years of a pro-business stance and pull the rug out from under the business? Vladeck has already said that the industry’s attempts to police itself are not good enough and is meeting with industry execs to talk about the issue.
“The frameworks that we’ve been using historically for privacy are no longer sufficient,” Mr. Vladeck said.
As seen in the Sears case where consumers were paid $10 to install software that then tracked them with their consent it is no longer good enough to tell people what they are signing up for and thus be protected under the law.
Sears had included information about tracking in its user license agreement, but that wasn’t good enough anymore, Mr. Vladeck said.
OK folks so it looks like the Internet marketing industry doesn’t have the support of Washington with the current state of affairs. Also, what once was may not be anymore. While it is early, it appears as if Vladeck is bent on making his mark. What is your take on this? Reason for concern or just some DC bluster? Let us hear you. This one could be real important.