NEWS9 October 2009

IAB introduces one-stop behavioural tracking opt-out

Privacy UK

The UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has launched a centralised site where web users can opt out of having their online activity tracked by behavioural targeters.

The site,, provides a one-stop opt-out facility, and has the backing of the signatories of the IAB’s good-practice principles, including major names such as AOL, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Advertising, as well as AudienceScience and Wunderloop, which provide targeting services to publishers.

Two firms with technology for targeting at ISP level also signed up to take part, but neither currently has an active business. US-based NebuAd has ceased trading since signing up, after privacy concerns scared off its potential clients, and UK-based Phorm has been shunned by various ISPs and publishers, but remains in talks with others.

Nick Stringer (pictured), head of regulatory affairs at the IAB, said: “We’ve certainly got the largest market players, and we’re looking to capture everybody else. We want as much of the market to sign up as possible and we’re spreading that message within the industry, and the message of what our principles are about and why we’ve introduced them.”

“This is a key milestone for the behavioural advertising industry,” he said. The site was set up earlier this year with information and tips for safe browsing online, but the opt-out facility has only now become available. It also includes a process where users can contact the relevant company directly if they have a complaint.

The IAB’s principles require companies to clearly inform users that data is being collected, offer them the chance not to take part and provide them with clear and simple informaiton about how their data is collected and used.

The bureau has also appointed ABCe (the electronic division of media industry auditor ABC) to independently verify that signatories to the principles have met their obligations.

Consumer groups have said that self-regulation will not be enough to keep online tracking under control, but Richard Foan, managing director of ABCe, said that “self regulation… will ensure high standards for this market”.