FTC Clamps Down on Microsoft, Google, and Others

Dennis Faas's picture

Just weeks after Microsoft made a big score by buying up part of rising web titan Facebook, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has now stated that it will be clamping down on Internet advertising. It's a measure the group hopes will reduce the amount of user tracking associated with the practice.

According to John Leibowitz, the FTC's commissioner, the initiative is meant to keep children safe while they're clicking around online. If Mom or Dad views a not-so-appropriate site, there's a chance that marketing tools custom-designed for the individual and his or her tastes will pop up just as little Billy has sat down to check out last night's football scores.

"When you're surfing the Internet, you never know who is peering over your shoulder or how many marketers are watching," Leibowitz said.

On the other end is the Interactive Advertising Bureau, whose job is to lash out at this kind of decision. According to Randall Rothenberg, president of the Bureau, the regulation of such advertising could only prevent "extraordinary pattern[s] of innovation."

Yeah, Amazon recommendations are nice, but I'm not sure I'd call them extraordinary.

Google's big whigs seem to agree. In light of the FTC decision, the president of the company's advertising and commerce in North America argued, "Privacy and trust are probably the two words that are going to make the Internet the healthiest in the future...User trust and loyalty are probably the No. 1 thing we focus on at Google." (Source: nytimes.com)

Despite the limitations in places on their new deal with Facebook, Microsoft agreed with Google. So too did America Online and Yahoo.

Still, as congenial as these companies appear to be, it's their massive marketing deals that have scared up Leibowitz and the FTC. Yahoo spent nearly $700 million on ad exchange company Right Media, Google made the famous $3.1 billion DoubleClick purchase, and Microsoft trumped all others by gobbling up aQuantive for $6 billion.

All of this has placed more pressure on the FTC. Leibowitz says that, if necessary, it will curtail the snoopy advertising trend by reviewing the web policy and practices of the Internet's heaviest hitters. (Source: mediapost.com)

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