Behavioural Advertizing in Canada

net ads opt out

Have you noticed yet that your ads seem to have a mind of their own and offer you things that bizarrely relate to your interests?  Well if so, you’re not alone, and many think it’s pretty creepy that ads ‘know’ more about you then they should.  IAB Canada agrees, and is looking into bring the U.S. behavioural advertizing opt-out system to Canada in by the end of the year.

But how do ads have this info, and how much info do they have on people?  Behaviour advertizing is when companies that want to advertize to you use ‘cookies’ to find out what your online behaviour is.  They take this info and then offer ads that match your online behaviour.  The cookies don’t capture pers

onal details like your name, date of birth, and banking info, but they do see what sites you visits and what your searches are for.  Cookies are nothing new and have been around taking notes on the sites you’ve been visiting.

If companies can find out what your online activity is, is this a breach of privacy?  Many believe yes, although legally it is not as they aren’t collecting personal or sensitive info.  It may be argued that the sites someone visits or their searches are in fact private and personal, and should fall under the privacy act.  Unfortunately it isn’t the case at this point.

opt out tool

Then how can people protect themselves against behavioural ads if they don’t want them, nor companies to have access to their info?  This is where IAB Canada’s opt-out system will come into play, so that consumers are able to add their IP address to the system so that companies cannot use behavioural advertizing on them.  The problem is that not all companies have to respect the opt-out list, so people may be left receiving behavioural ads even after the system is in Canada.   Another option is to disable or delete your cookies in your browser settings.  Unfortunately, many sites and programs will not run properly if you disable cookies, and deleting them may work temporarily, but it’s not a practical solution.  That means that cookies will continue to grab your online behaviour.

It looks like behavioural advertizing is here to stay in one form or another, unless of course the Canadian Privacy Act states that this practice is a breach of privacy.  Do you think behavioural advertizing should be considered a breach of privacy?

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