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European Parliament calls for steps against intrusive new advertising on the internet

Author: The Sofia Echo staff Date: Thu, Dec 16 2010 1 Comment, 4015 Views
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Consumers should be warned about intrusive and misleading new advertising techniques such as internet ads tailored to fit individuals, says a resolution approved by the European Parliament on December 15 2010. 

The resolution also calls for better protection of vulnerable consumers and emphasises the role of advertising in challenging stereotypes, a European Parliament media statement said.

"We must reflect upon some very simple values: respect for privacy, protection of the most vulnerable, because we know very well that children are among the most vulnerable to "behavioural" advertising, i.e. that which targets their habits. These children do not understand that this advertising is not a simple advert that reaches them by chance", said rapporteur Philippe Juvin (EPP, FR), in the debate preceding the vote.

While the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) of 2005 does provide an essential legal framework for combating misleading and aggressive advertising, several difficulties are already apparent, notably with new, more pervasive forms of advertising arising from the development of new advertising practices and technologies on the internet, notes the own-initiative resolution.

Ads tailored to individuals

The resolution voices concern about "the routine use of behavioural advertising and the development of intrusive advertising practices", such as third parties who read private emails or use social networks and geolocation techniques to tailor advertising to individual consumers' interests.

It also calls for the insertion of "the clearly readable words 'behavioural advertisement' into the relevant online advertisements", along with a window containing a basic explanation of this practice.

Data privacy concerns

Behavioural advertising can constitute "an attack on the protection of privacy when it involves tracking individuals", e.g. through cookies or profiling, says the resolution. It stresses that consumers must receive clear, accessible and comprehensive information about how their data are collected and used. It adds that this information should be kept and used "only by explicit agreement by the consumer".

To improve consumer safety and transparency, the report calls on the Commission to develop an EU web site labelling system, modelled on the European Privacy Seal, that certifies a site's standard of data protection.

Transparency and education

To protect vulnerable consumers such as children, the Commission is urged to develop an EU advertising literacy programme modelled on the UK's "Media Smart" initiative. Media are encouraged "to restrict TV advertising addressed at children during TV programmes.

Challenging stereotypes

Reliable advertising and the promotion of healthy role models "may have a positive influence on society's perceptions of issues such as gender roles, and the human body image and normality", says the resolution, adding that the use of "extremely skinny models (men or women) should be reconsidered in order to avoid harmful messages about appearance".

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    • Profile preview
      rene Rating: 8
      #1 09, 30, Fri, Dec 17 2010

      It is amazing that politicians continue to call their voters dumb asses who don't know an advertisement when they see one.
      And they expect to win the next elections?

      "Protection of the weak" Come on, gimme a break. It is high-time that kind of West-European salon-socialism was ended.

      "Encourage media to restrict TV advertisement addressed at children" ? Isn't that what media laws are for? Just outlaw advertisement immediately before, after, and during programming aimed at children under the age of x. Done.

      "Skinny models" harmful? [...]

      Read the full comment For the past decade the whole world has been watching standard format programming on widescreen television screen, causing everyone to look exactly 1.6666 times as wide as they really are. If the argument was half as valid as it is claimed to be, it should have been reversed by now.
      Continued exposure to widescreen television screens causes obesity.
      Bring on the skinny girls! :D

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