Over the past week there have been some interesting developments coming out of Washington D.C. that could have an impact on internet marketers.
On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report outlining ways to improve online consumer privacy, including through the creation of a “do-not-track” system that would allow internet users to opt-out of having their online surfing behavior tracked. The report argues that the online marketing industry’s self regulation efforts in this area have fallen short thus far.
The FTC isn’t yet calling for legislation, but a House subcommittee on consumer protection is holding a hearing on the matter today. The U.S. Commerce Department is also planning to release a report that will include recommendations regarding online privacy.
The FTC report suggests that the most practical process for creating a ‘do-not-track’ system would be to include an option within web browsers that would indicate a user’s decision to opt-out of being tracked. The report also notes that the ‘do-not-track’ system should not “undermine the benefits that online behavioral advertising has to offer, by funding online content and services and providing personalized advertisements that many consumers value.”
As is often the case, the devil is in the details. Depending on how such a ‘do-not-track’ system functioned, the effect could be incredibly far reaching, potentially impacting not just affiliate marketing but all online and mobile commerce.
We will be keeping a very close eye on this issue in the weeks and months ahead and will keep you updated on any new developments.
For more information on the FTC report and possible ‘do-not-track’ system click on the links below.
FTC Report Calls for Do-Not-Track System
FTC Staff Issues Privacy Report Offers Framework for Consumers, Businesses, and Policymakers
Read the FTC Report
Last week, the news spread that the Department of Homeland Security had begun seizing and shutting down a large number of domains that are alleged to be involved with copyright infringement. Many of the sites seized seem to be related to the downloading and sharing of copyrighted music, while others were apparently related to fake versions of various designer and brand merchandise.
This likely hasn’t had much of an impact on the affiliate marketing industry to this point, however it opens up some interesting questions. If a site can be seized for allegations of copyright infringement, could that be extended beyond music downloads to using a photo or text from another source without proper permission or attribution?
Like the ‘do-not-track’ system, this is another area that will be interesting to monitor in the weeks and months ahead to see how many additional domains are seized, and if the seizures continue to be targeted at music download and knockoff merchandise sites or if they expand to include other types of alleged infringement.
For more information on the domain seizures, click on the link below.
U.S. Seizes Sites Linked to Copyright Infringement