Telecom firms support BT ads opt-out

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In a hearing last week before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transpor­tation about broadband providers and consumer privacy, three lead­ing telecommunications providers committed to gaining consumers' consent before engaging in online targeted advertising.

AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications advo­cated creating a framework to pro­vide consumers an opportunity to consent to receive online targeted ads and protect their privacy. According to Peter Stern, chief strategy officer at Time Warner Cable, such a framework would only work if it is universally adopted by all providers of tar­geted online advertising, including ad networks, application providers and ISPs. The framework would cover elements such as transpar­ency, consumer control, privacy protection and consumer value.

“Setting proper policy in this area will be crucial to a healthy and growing Internet ecosystem,” said Dorothy Atwood, senior VP public policy and chief privacy officer at AT&T Services Inc., dur­ing the hearing.

All three companies were careful to differentiate between delivering ads to consumers based on their behavior on an individual Web site — which was referred to as relevant advertising and not tar­geted online advertising — and the practice of tracking a consumer's Web browsing and search activi­ties to develop a unique profile to deliver ads.

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