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The BBC's Rob Watson
"The internet has presented the US Government with a real challenge"
 real 28k

Thursday, 27 July, 2000, 23:33 GMT 00:33 UK
Internet privacy 'safeguards' approved
E-privacy graphic
The United States Government has approved a plan by internet advertisers to address concerns over the right to privacy of internet users.

A group representing 90% of America's online advertisers say consumers will have the right to stop data being collected about them through their e-mail messages and histories of surfing websites.

The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) also bars internet firms from using medical or financial data, social security numbers and online sexual behaviour revealed by internet users to determine which advertisements to flash on their screens.

Data is currently compiled to build a profile of the internet user and deployed in targeted advertising.

People should also be able to see information already collected on them.

But privacy campaigners say the proposed measures do not go far enough in providing the government with a remedy if advertisers fail to follow the guidelines.

"This is a report written by industry for industry and does not respond to the public concerns about privacy," said the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (FTC), Marc Rotenberg.

His group, which filed the original complaint with the Federation Trade Commission, says it is considering taking legal action to force the FTC to take stronger action.

The agreement was drawn up to address consumer concerns about the development of technologies such as cookies which track a user's movement on the web.

The NAI will mean notices are put on web pages warning users that cookies are in use.

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