AOTA attendees balance service, privacy

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As behavioral advertising and Web 2.0 have become the norm online, more businesses that interact with consumers are faced with drawing the lines between appropriate advertising and potentially invading customer privacy.

At last week's Authentication and Online Trust Association (AOTA) Summit 2008, experts focused on the challenges that online marketers face in providing users personalized services.

Session speaker Mozelle Thompson, CEO of Thompson Strategic Consulting and former FTC commissioner, recom­mended a proactive approach.

“[Marketers] have to fight the urge to back away and do nothing, because they have the opportunity to help shape the rules and expectations of how [these chal­lenges] should be handled,” he said.

While legitimate marketers are faced with defining best practices, big brands also face having their brand name being used fraudulently. This is especially true in the social networking space.

For this reason, Craigslist urges its users not to send unprotected money wires to strangers. The free online classifieds pro­vider has also gone after aggressive real estate brokers in New York City, who have used the site without following the site's rules.

Some social networks have made their platforms very rigid to protect users and are measuring the results. For example, Classmates.com measures trust by sur­veying members about their perception of its reputation.

On the e-mail front, many sessions at the show dealt with best practices behaviors, including reputation and authentication. Though he cautioned that no technology was perfect, Pat Peterson, VP of tech­nology at IronPort Systems, pushed the importance of using Sender ID Frame­work (SIDF) and DomainKeys to build a better reputation. Adoption of these tools has grown more than 30% since 2005, according to the panel.

“E-mail is still the No. 1 [marketing] tool used on the Internet, but consum­ers are losing trust,” added Pablo Stern, director of engineering, messaging and Web security at Symantec Corp. “[For this reason,] it is important to authenticate to help build trust in the channel.”

American Greetings, a greeting card service, works with the FBI to issue warn­ings around big holidays, which can be a popular time for spammers, especially those using e-cards.

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