Eyebaster Tells the SEC about its business “to track Internet users and their online behavior” for profiling

Eyeblaster is a rich media online advertising technology company which filed a S-1 with the SEC last March (for an initial public offering). Here’s the section on privacy:

“Privacy concerns could lead to legislative and other limitations on our ability to collect usage data from Internet users, including limitations on our use of cookie or conversion tag technology and user profiling, which is crucial to our ability to provide our solutions and services to our customers.

Our ability to conduct targeted advertising campaigns and compile data that we use to formulate campaign strategies for our customers depends on the use of “cookies” and “conversion tags” to track Internet users and their online behavior, which allows us to build anonymous user profiles and measure an advertising campaign’s effectiveness. A cookie is a small file of information stored on a user’s computer that allows us to recognize that user’s browser when we serve advertisements. A conversion tag functions similarly to a banner advertisement, except that the conversion tag is not visible. Our conversion tags may be placed on specific pages of clients of our customers’ or prospective customers’ websites. Government authorities inside the United States concerned with the privacy of Internet users have suggested limiting or eliminating the use of cookies, conversion tags or user profiling. Bills aimed at regulating the collection and use of personal data from Internet users are currently pending in U.S. Congress and many state legislatures. Attempts to regulate spyware may be drafted in such a way as to include technology like cookies and conversion tags in the definition of spyware, thereby creating restrictions that could reduce our ability to use them. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce have conducted hearings regarding user profiling, the collection of non-personally identifiable information and online privacy.

Our foreign operations may also be adversely affected by regulatory action outside the United States. For example, the European Union has adopted a directive addressing data privacy that limits the collection, disclosure and use of information regarding European Internet users. In addition, the European Union has enacted an electronic communications directive that imposes certain restrictions on the use of cookies and conversion tags and also places restrictions on the sending of unsolicited communications. Each European Union member country was required to enact legislation to comply with the provisions of the electronic communications directive by October 31, 2003 (though not all have done so). Germany has also enacted additional laws limiting the use of user profiling, and other countries, both in and out of the European Union, may impose similar limitations…

If our ability to use cookies or conversion tags or to build user profiles were substantially restricted due to the foregoing, or for any other reason, we would have to generate and use other technology or methods that allow the gathering of user profile data in order to provide our services to our customers. This change in technology or methods could require significant reengineering time and resources, and may not be complete in time to avoid negative consequences to our business. In addition, alternative technology or methods might not be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. If the use of cookies and conversion tags are prohibited and we are not able to efficiently and cost effectively create new technology, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be materially adversely affected.”

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

Leave a Reply