European Parliament proposes tough behavioural ad rules

Peter Tomlinson pwt at
Sat Nov 13 12:37:01 GMT 2010

Nicholas Bohm wrote:
> 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
>>         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.
I suspect that it may be the law under the USA (?) CanSpam Act (which is 
what some emails refer to). Certainly with UK originated 
business-to-business sales and marketing emails it is now very common to 
see an Unsubscribe URL (which usually works) or, sometimes, an 
Unsubscribe email address (a much more clumsy way that usually requires 
you to reply from the mailbox to which the email was sent, not always 
convenient). (I get rather too much unsolicited but genuine B2B stuff, 
partly because my domain was registered a long time ago, partly because 
some rogue bulk emailers were for a while very persistent, and partly 
because of confusion with another domain name that is rather similar - 
the Unsubscribe link is now usually effective. And I get some B2C that 
are also quite genuine emails with Unsubscribe links, but. Hilary's 
Blinds has been a big nuisance...)

And I do sometimes visit the spammer's web page, but with cookies and 
scripts turned off.

However, we are considering here the unskilled consumer, so, given the 
amount of phishing that's going on, one would expect the miscreants to 
start using Unsubscribe links if people operating legally are forced to 
use them. This all tends to give support to the idea of having a safe 
online ID method, so that you get a warning about (or should be able to 
completely block) emails from sources that don't provide bona fide 
certificates from trusted providers - and then the miscreants will get 
into stealing certificates or persuading CAs to let them have 
certificates. (I'm still puzzled as to why Firefox/Kaspersky is telling 
me that lots of business and even public sector sites are using 
Kaspersky personal certificates for SSL.)


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