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Australian Privacy Commissioner releases Online Behavioural Advertising: Know your options

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner's message for Privacy Awareness Week 2011 is ‘Privacy: It's all about you'.  To help people take control of their privacy, the Office has launched Online Behavioural Advertising: Know Your Options, a Fact Sheet to assist consumers make choices about how their information is used for the delivery of online advertising.

Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, said that while some people don't mind receiving advertisements that are targeted to their interests, it is still important that they understand how their information is being collected and used.

"Many people may have noticed that online advertising reflects their personal interests and online habits, but they don't know how advertising and data collection companies build a picture of browsing habits and interests to deliver advertising," Mr Pilgrim said.

For example, not everyone knows that many ads on websites are placed not by the website they visit, but provided by advertising networks acting as brokers - they connect websites that want to sell advertising space with advertisers who want to reach potential customers.  Online Behavioural Advertising: Know Your Options describes how this practice works and sets out a number of options for controlling how information is collected and shared online.

"Different browsers have settings that can be used to control the collection and sharing of information online," Mr Pilgrim said. "Some companies give users the option of viewing their profile, editing it or opting out of receiving targeted ads, and there are tools available that help people see which trackers are active on pages and allow them to be blocked."

Mr Pilgrim said that the information collected by online advertisers may often not be enough to identify you, and so will not be covered by the Privacy Act. However, it is important to remember that new technologies make it increasingly easy to develop a detailed picture of who you are by combining the information that you reveal when you transact online.

"I encourage people to read this Fact Sheet and use it to make informed choices about how they allow their information to be used when they are online," Mr Pilgrim said.

Online Behavioural Advertising: Know Your Options is available at http://www.oaic.gov.au/publications/factsheets.html

Media contact:      Ms Leila Daniels      0407 663 968         media@oaic.gov.au