On February 12, 2009, the FTC issued its long-anticipated Staff Report on Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising. The revised Self-Regulatory Principles are the result of a year of study of the more than 60 comments provided by industry, advocacy organizations, academics, and individual consumers in response to the FTC’s proposed self-regulatory principles issued in late 2007.

On July 17, 2008, the House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee examined the practice of deep packet inspection (DPI), a method for networks and third parties to determine what information users (identified by IP addresses or random ID numbers) are searching for and accessing on the Internet in order to tailor more relevant advertising based on an individual’s interests. DPI is often cookie-based and does not link personally identifiable information with user surfer behavior.

The House Subcommittee’s hearing focused on whether the online advertising industry should be required to use opt-in systems, or whether current opt-out systems adequately protect consumers’ privacy. The July 17 hearing is the latest in a series of efforts by regulators and legislators to better understand behavioral targeting.