Microsoft Proposoes Online Privacy Policy To FTC

Specifically, the proposed self-regulating structure requires revamped privacy standards in five different areas: "when site visitors data is collected for online advertising, when ads are delivered on unrelated sites, when sites engage in behavioral advertising, when personally identifiable information is used and when sensitive personal data is used," according to a written statement.

For example, third parties seeking to develop a consumer activity profile to deliver ads across multiple third-party sites should be required to offer consumers a choice about how their information is used.

Likewise, Microsoft said that any organization that logs page views or collects other information about consumers for ad-related purposes within its own site should inform the consumers of its ad practices in a privacy notice available on its own homepage.

In addition, third parties should be required to receive affirmative express consent before using sensitive or personally identifiable information for behavioral advertising.

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The company submitted the comprehensive guidelines in response to the FTC's request for comments on the agency's own plan for self-regulating online advertising. Microsoft encouraged the FTC to adopt its submitted policy of self-regulatory principles. The submitted policy mirrored its own Privacy Principles for Live Search and Online Ad Targeting, which the company adopted in 2007. The online privacy guidelines were based upon existing policies and practices that include commitments to user notice, user control, anonymization security and best practices.

"We welcome the opportunity to work with the FTC to ensure that online consumers benefit from meaningful privacy protections," said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel for Microsoft in a written statement. "Online advertising should put consumers in the driver's seat, not only with the information they want to see, but also with the tools to protect their privacy."

The company said in its filing that online advertising has assumed a large and growing significance in global economies. According to Microsoft's plan, the company would require more disclosure from advertisers and user consent as an individual's privacy became more vulnerable due to a growing consumer base that "may not appreciate other elements of online advertising that may impact their privacy." In particular, Microsoft said that many consumers are unaware that third parties may be involved in delivering online ads and collecting their private information.