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New rules give the public transparency and control over online behavioural advertising

4 February 2013

New advertising rules overseen by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that provide the public with notice of, and control over, online behavioural advertising (OBA) come into effect today.

OBA is a form of targeted advertising. It involves the collection of information from a computer’s web browser, for example Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox, about web viewing behaviour so that it can be used to deliver online advertisements that are more likely to be of interest to the user of that computer.

The new rules require ad networks delivering behaviourally targeted ads to make clear they are doing so. Most are likely to do that through an icon in the corner of online ads. They must also allow consumers to exercise control over receiving targeted ads by providing an opt-out tool.

Anyone concerned about transparency and control of OBA can contact the ASA. Our website contains easy-to-understand information about what OBA is, how it works and how consumers can opt-out of receiving it if they choose. If a consumer continues to receive OBA despite having exercised their choice not to, we will take action to stop it on their behalf.

The Information Commissioner remains responsible for looking into complaints about the issue of consent, e.g. around the placement of cookies on a computer’s web browser.

More information, tips and advice about OBA and opting-out can be found in the “Your Ad Choices” section of the YourOnlineChoices website.

Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker says: “The new rules will provide greater awareness of and control over OBA, demystifying how advertisers deliver more relevant ads to us and allowing those of us who object to say “stop”. We’ll be there to make sure that the ad networks stick to the rules.”

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