Like many of you, I've been drowning in heated debates about privacy, Do-Not-Track and related industry concerns for the past several months. There has been a lot of anger, a lot of finger pointing and a lot of blame placed on third parties. Given the frequency and pervasiveness of these ongoing discussions, it is easy to lose site of the core values of the NAI. We could become sidetracked with a singular issue that represents a bare sliver of our mission; we could be myopic and veer off course from our core agenda. This is the last thing we should allow to happen. There is too much at stake for everyone – NAI members, our business partners, brands, and consumers.
So I'm going to get off the DNT detour and return us all to the main highway, if only for a moment. I want to take a deep breath, pause, and reaffirm the NAI's core philosophy – what makes us tick, what motivates the NAI staff to go to work each morning, and what members expect from us.
Our philosophy stems from the idea that the NAI is a place to explore, discuss and champion industry best practices in online privacy and data management. We do the work we do for the benefit of our industry, yes, but most importantly, for the protection and education of consumers. Beyond industry regulation, we are here because we firmly believe responsible data management and consumer respect are critical to industry success – and quite simply, the right thing to do. We believe 100% that responsible and transparent business and data management practices promote consumer trust and confidence. If we’re upfront about OBA and what we do, perhaps consumers will embrace it without apprehension. Our industry is evolving so rapidly – new technologies and business models are introduced almost daily, it seems – but if we can apply well-accepted principles of notice, choice, transparency and accountability industry-wide, we’ll be poised to overcome these challenges.
This is our narrative to tell and must tell it now, and in our own words. We cannot afford to wait for others to spin the story for us, particularly in this heated environment. Privacy and innovation are not a zero-sum game, just as privacy and profits are not mutually exclusive. Self-regulation is an ongoing process of constantly reevaluating new technologies, new business models, and new policy developments - and then adapting old policies and crafting new ones so that regulation continues to grow organically and in lockstep with our evolving industry.
Regardless of where you sit, the discussion should be about best practices and high standards. We need to join together at the table to think creatively about the application of fair information practice principles in our ever-changing digital marketplace. As online advertising continues to grow and diversify and new technologies emerge, the NAI will remain a vigorous advocate for responsible online advertising standards and effective consumer transparency and choice mechanisms. It’s through best practices, high standards, and an iron will to simply “do right” that we earn and keep consumer trust.