Thursday, May 8, 2008

Advocates Urge FTC to Take Proactive Stance on Mobile Marketing

Privacy advocates are concerned that it could be misused. It's the 'Minority Report' paranoia.

-D. Reed Freeman, a partner with the law firm Kelley Drye & Warren and a former staff attorney in the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection

He was referring to a complaint that the Center for Digital Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group filed with the Federal Trade Commission. The purpose of the complaint is to force the FTC to begin to set rules about how much and how marketers can track people's actions on their cell phones and other mobile devices. Of course, the advocacy groups would disagree that their actions are paranoia. "We're filing a complaint to force the FTC to take a proactive stance," said Jeff Chester, executive direct of the Center for Digital Democracy. He noted that mobile ad companies "incorporate the same problematic business practices that we witnessed with PC-based broadband marketing, including behavioral targeting and profiling techniques--except that this time they know your location."

In Wendy Davis, "Groups Complain To FTC About Mobile Marketing," Online Media Daily, May 6, 2008.

It might be added that, contrary to Freeman's statement, the marketing activities in Minority Report are treated rather gently, even humorously, compared to the government surveillance in the movie. Steven Spielberg, the director, was using the marketing scenes to provide product placement for The Gap and other firms.

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