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Tracking Consumers Online – Behavioural Targeted Advertising and a “Do Not Track List” in Canada

(OTTAWA)— The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today released a report entitled “A ‘Do Not Track List’ for Canada?”, that examines online behavioural targeted advertising and online behavioural tracking. This practice consists of tracking consumers’ online activities to target advertising to individual consumers based on their online history, preferences and attributes. In recent years, online consumer tracking and online behavioural targeted advertising have become industry standard for marketers and website operators and consumers are at the mercy of online advertisers. These advertising practices are conducted covertly and offer consumers few options to control how their personal information is collected, used, disclosed and retained.

The report calls for Canadian regulators to study the issue of online behavioural advertising, as American and European regulators have already done and issue clear guidelines for online behavioural targeted advertising practices. “Consumers want the ability to control their personal information online – not only when and how it is collected, but how it is used and shared with other parties,” said Janet Lo, Legal Counsel for PIAC. “Canadian regulators must set down clear guidelines for online behavioural targeting and online consumer tracking practices. Only clear, enforceable rules can make a significant impact to protect consumers from unwanted online surveillance and behavioural targeted advertisements.”

A survey undertaken by PIAC from April 1 to 8, 2009 among 1,570 adult Canadians with Internet and analyzed in the report revealed that Canadian consumers are uncomfortable with online tracking for the purpose of targeted and behavioural advertising and that Canadians support the creation of a “Do Not Track List” for the internet. However, a “Do Not Track List” likely would face strong opposition and lobbying by the advertising industry.

The report also calls for special attention to the issue of behavioural advertising targeting children and youth.

“Full report – A Do Not Track List for Canada? [pdf file: 0.62mb]

Executive summary [pdf file: 0.01mb]
Sommaire [pdf file: 0.03mb]

PIAC received funding from Industry Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-Profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations. The views expressed in the report are not necessarily those of Industry Canada or the Government of Canada.

For more information, please contact:
Janet Lo
Legal Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
(613) 562-4002×24
(613) 562- 0007 (Fax)

 

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