The Network Advertising Initiative, a coalition of online marketers, Thursday released a beta version of its "opt-out protector."
The protector is a Firefox "add-on" that NAI says would prevent the accidental deletion of a Web user's preference to opt out of targeted, behavioral advertising. Plans are to make the add-on available to other browsers, including Internet Explorer.
Currently, if a user clears out their browser cookies, NAI members could no longer identify the opt-out.
"We will continue to work with policymakers, technologists and privacy advocates to help users to learn about their choices for online behavioral advertising and make educated decisions to protect their privacy," said NAI Executive Director Charles Curran, in announcing the beta test.
Coming up with a way to make the opt-out sticky, as it were, was one of the promises the group made to Congress in an effort to get ahead of possible behavioral advertising legislation.
Legislators and the Federal Trade Commission have been taking a hard look at online targeted advertising and the issue of consumer privacy.
The announcement comes as consumer groups push the Federal Trade Commission to step in, arguing that self-regulation isn't working.
The head of one of those groups, Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, disdained the effort. "This is a digital band-aid for a gushing data privacy wound. The NAI should insist it's members adopt serious privacy safeguards. The NAI has failed again to protect consumers. "
It also comes in advance of an FTC workshop on consumer online privacy (Dec. 7) and the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a bill to protect sensitive online information against identify theft.
Tirekickers on the new opt-out protection can check out the add-on at www.networkadvertising.org.