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OFT calls for consumer protection from targeted Internet advertising

In a repeat of the situation we saw last year, consumers and businesses in the UK may well become the centre of attention with regards to new Internet advertising systems which effectively track websites accessed by individuals and target adverts towards relevant subject matters. There are growing concerns regarding privacy issues and the fact that individual browsing activity could be used in a manner which users have not agreed to.

Despite the fact that the courts and the authorities last year appeared to agree to a watering down of initial ideas regarding targeted Internet advertising it looks as progress may have come quicker than the authorities had expected. There is now concern from the authorities about the potential for the price of goods to be varied depending upon a users browsing activity and their perceived interest in the products for sale. This is just one of many issues which the OFT is likely to bring up later in the year when a formal investigation may be considered.

In the meantime the OFT is prepared to give the industry time to act without further legislation although if no changes are forthcoming and no new guidelines released then there is every chance we will see a formal investigation towards the end of 2010.

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