Facing privacy pressure from
Congress, Yahoo Inc. said Friday that it will institute a system to let
consumers opt out of ads on its site that target their Web browsing
Behavioral targeting is a technology that seeks to deduce consumers' interests by tracking what sorts of Web sites they visit.
The change, which will take effect in a few weeks, was announced in
response to a hearing held last month by the Internet subcommittee of
the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has looked into
behavioral targeting and other online advertising practices.
Previously, Yahoo had offered the opt-out choice on ads that it runs
on other sites. With Friday's announcement, the company pledged to
extend that option to ads displayed on its own pages. "Yahoo
understands that the trust of our users is our greatest asset," Anne
Toth, the company's vice president for policy, said in a statement.
Yahoo said consumers will be able to access the opt-out feature by
visiting its privacy center, which is linked on the home page and
nearly every page on its network. Those who do opt out of targeted ads
will instead see generic ads.
The Associated Press reported that the policy change does not affect
Yahoo's other targeted ads, such as those tied to search terms or
location, nor stop the collection of the data that had been used to
target ads. Yahoo said it still needs such information for such uses as
Time Warner Inc.'s AOL and Microsoft Corp. also allow users to opt
out of targeted ads on their sites, while Google Inc. generally does
not use the sort of targeting that had aroused congressional interest.