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Google offers a Chrome plugin that uses cookies to control privacy, while Firefox offers a HTTP Header to tell websites to not track the users and log the data anonymously.

This obviously extends a level of trust to the advertiser to respect the user's privacy wishes. The Google cookie approach seems to be based off an advertising consortium called aboutads.info.

Question

Can someone explain what consumer privacy protections are in place for advertisers? I'm looking for links to legal repercussions, or how to report a negligent advertiser.

So far I've only found information on how to report non-compliant companies in the United States, but I don't know how effective that is (fines, etc) or what the laws are in other countries .

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    The main issue is that the USA have unbelievable poor consumer and privacy protection laws, but most of the companies, that violate privacy, are USA-based. For example the German privacy advisors have little power over Facebook. All they can do is to concentrate on German organizations and companies, that use the social plugins without explicit user consent. – Hendrik Brummermann Mar 19 '12 at 9:23
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In the USA, privacy is a hot topic in congress — at least privacy with respect to what a corporation knows about us. Mainly because corporations are slowly proving their inability to protect the information they collect from us.

On paper major corporations have recently agreed to honor Do Not Track headers, they have promised to provide a means to enable/disable this option, it happening slowly but still progress I suppose.

The problem is simply every country has a different expectation of privacy. So what level of privacy should be the default? Using the user's country to determine that is a bit of information, and a great way, to suppress information.

At this point the worst a company can do is break their own policy, get caught doing so, and have it be reported on by the world's media. There really isn't a standard.

As Hendrik Brummermann points out. A country that does have laws on the books about privacy has their hands tied, on companies outside of their borders, because the internet being borderless.

  • "major coperations have recently agreed to honor Do Not Track headers" if it is not activated by default! – curiousguy Aug 11 '12 at 4:22
  • "major coperations have recently agreed to honor Do Not Track headers" is no longer true. Some factions are attempting to derail the Do Not Track process. – pseudon Mar 19 '13 at 17:06
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    In any case, there is currently no agreement on what Do Not Track means. Advertisers want it to mean Do Not Target (but they can still collect and aggregate whatever data they want). But the intent of the standard, and what most users want, is for Do Not Track to mean exactly what it says... Do Not Track (which implies do not collect and aggregate). – pseudon Mar 19 '13 at 17:09

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