European Parliament proposes tough behavioural ad rules

Nicholas Bohm nbohm at
Sat Nov 13 11:25:14 GMT 2010

On 12/11/2010 14:28, Roland Perry wrote:
> In article <4CDD0277.1040907 at>, Peter Tomlinson
> <pwt at> writes
> >From Pinsent Masons in their weekly out-law newsletter:
>> Adverts based on a web user's activity should carry a sign saying
>> 'behavioural advertisement' and display a window explaining what
>> information has been used to select that ad, a draft report by the
>> European Parliament has said.
>> More at
> The report calls on the Commission, among other things, to:
>         prohibit the systematic, indiscriminate sending of text message
>         advertisements to all mobile phone users within the coverage
>         area of an advertising poster equipped with Bluetooth technology
>         without their prior consent;
> Easily done by changing the definition of "public network" in existing
> law to include Bluetooth broadcasts.
>         prohibit the content of private e-mails being read by a third
>         party for advertising purposes;
> Isn't it already prohibited, for most purposes?

Gmail seems to read messages just after the recipient (so avoiding
interception because the message has crossed the doormat) for the
purpose of selecting adverts to show the recipient.  That may be what
this is aimed at.

>         require advertisements sent by e-mail to contain an automatic
>         link enabling the recipient to refuse all further advertising
> Again, isn't this already the law (if the sending of the email was legal
> in the first place)?

I didn't know it was the law (is it?), but just as one shouldn't reply
to spam because it encourages the sender, so - a fortiori - one
shouldn't visit the spammer's webpage, which could do even more harm. 
This therefore seems a clueless suggestion.

>         restrict online alcohol advertising to the websites of industry
>         professionals, local authorities and tourist offices,
> Why is it OK for the council to advertise booze? Is this special
> pleading from the Champagne region?
>         modify the limited liability regime for information society
>         services in order to make the sale by search engines of
>         registered brand names as advertising keywords subject to prior
>         authorisation from the owner of the brand name in question
> As others trying to make public policy in this area are discovering -
> registered where and for what purpose? Will Lincoln Cathedral have to
> get permission from both a cheese and a car manufacturer to use its name
> as an advertising keyword? (Assuming the car is registered as a TM in
> the UK in the first place).

If there is liability for trademark infringement in such a case (and I
seem to recall a recent decision in which a claimant failed), I do not
see how the "limited liability regime for information society
services" would provide a shield anyway.

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