Main Nav

Are Online Targeted Advertising Practices Violating Wiretap Laws?

Released one day before the Senate Commerce Committee held its hearing on the privacy implications of online advertising, a new report says targeted ads may involve practices that violate state and federal wiretap laws.

On Tuesday, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) issued a memo, saying Internet service providers (ISPs) that allow an advertising network to copy [their] customers' Web traffic contents are defying "reasonable consumer expectations and may [be violating] communications privacy laws."

Currently, some ISPs are working with third party advertising agencies, which are copying consumer data in order to target specific ads at users. One such firm, NebuAD, testifed before the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday. NebuAd claims it does not violate any laws because they do not collect personally identifiable information. Some, though, argue that any collection of data can ultimately be tied to an individual and disagree with NebuAd's assertion that privacy is completely protected. CDT's memo says the practice most likely violates legal protections provided in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

"Consumers do not expect their ISP to be copying their Internet communications and selling them to third parties," said CDT Vice President Ari Schwartz. He stressed that consumers need to be aware that their information is being sold to outside groups, and there should be "clear notice and prior consent."

CDT acknowledges that federal laws may allow these practices with the consent of subscribers, but they say they fear consumers are "ill-equipped" to know how or even if their information is being tracked.

And while CDT President Leslie Harris said the larger ISPs have shied away from using firms like NebuAd, she says this model is not going away anytime soon. Harris says they want to see the Federal Trade Commission adopt enforceable guidelines and a sensible privacy regime for handling these evolving challenges to Internet privacy.

Tags from the EDUCAUSE Library

Tags from the Community

Close
Close


Annual Conference
September 29–October 2
Register Now!

Events for all Levels and Interests

Whether you're looking for a conference to attend face-to-face to connect with peers, or for an online event for team professional development, see what's upcoming.

Close

Digital Badges
Member recognition effort
Earn yours >

Career Center


Leadership and Management Programs

EDUCAUSE Institute
Project Management

 

 

Jump Start Your Career Growth

Explore EDUCAUSE professional development opportunities that match your career aspirations and desired level of time investment through our interactive online guide.

 

Close
EDUCAUSE organizes its efforts around three IT Focus Areas

 

 

Join These Programs If Your Focus Is

Close

Get on the Higher Ed IT Map

Employees of EDUCAUSE member institutions and organizations are invited to create individual profiles.
 

 

Close

2014 Strategic Priorities

  • Building the Profession
  • IT as a Game Changer
  • Foundations


Learn More >

Uncommon Thinking for the Common Good™

EDUCAUSE is the foremost community of higher education IT leaders and professionals.