Web ad servers downplay opt-out

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The Web's major third-party ad servers today unveiled a plan to give consumers the ability to opt out of demographic profiling but said they expect less than 4% of Web consumers to actually opt out, with the number perhaps being far smaller. According to the new plan, presented at a Federal Trade Commis-sion/U.S. Department of Commerce workshop, consumers would still get ads but the ads would be selected according to sites the consumer visits instead of an individual's consumer demographics. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley opened the workshop warning that profiling threatens consumer confidence in the Web, saying consumers "fear businesses they have never heard of having information about them and using it for purposes they don't understand." Meanwhile, some critics of profiling called on the FTC to launch an immediate study and submit recommendations for legislation to Congress within 90 days.

Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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