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Friday, April 15, 2011
Rules to Let European Web Users Disable Cookies

An inductry body said on Thursday that European web users will be able to exclude themselves from being target of behavioral advertising by offering them a way to turn off their browser's cookies.

The European Online Advertising Industry today released its cross-European self-regulatory Framework for Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA). The Framework, outlining good practice aimed at enhancing transparency and consumer control, has been signed by the online industry's leading businesses including Google, Microsoft, Vibrant Media, ValueClick Media and Yahoo.

Web companies monitor people's online activities through tracking software called cookies, so they can send targeted advertising based on their potential interests or previous site visits - a process called behavioral advertising.

The obligations under the Framework seek to enhance transparency when advertisements are delivered using Third Party OBA (i.e. advertising on websites by other than the web site itself). Consumers will be provided with greater control through a number of new mechanisms: once the companies fully implement their obligations (the latest by June 2012), all OBA based display advertisements will contain an icon that signifies to consumers that OBA is used. When the icon is clicked on, the consumer will be directed to a company site with further information and the possibility to turn off OBA advertisements as well as to the new pan-European website,, that provides further information on OBA in the relevant language as well as a tool to manage data preferences, including turning off OBA with just a few clicks.

"Online advertising techniques require the trust of consumers. The OBA Framework will introduce cross-industry self-regulation for behavioural advertising across Europe, backed up by a compliant and enforcement mechanism. This initiative is the culmination of 18 months planning and collaboration with European organisations representing advertisers, agencies, publishers and advertising standards." said Alain Heureux, President IAB Europe.

As the obligations are only binding to signatory companies, IAB Europe's OBA Framework will be complemented by the European Advertising Standards Alliance's (EASA) Best Practice Recommendations, released today. These recommendations complement the OBA Framework by ensuring that the entire advertising ecosystem adheres to rules that together guarantee that the value chain delivers the objective of enhanced control and consumer choice.

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