Congress is preparing an opt-in privacy bill for online advertisers, according to Peter Kafka. The effort is led by Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia.
This means publishers couldn't serve up behavioral ads unless getting permission first from the consumer. Right now, most consumers can opt-out, though most probably don't give it a thought as they browse the web.
Though details on the bill are vague, Kafka rightly points out that most advertisers and/or publishers could work around the new regulations by offering incentives to those who opt-in.
Another option would be offering an ad-free version of a site for a premium. It's no secret that many in the media world are hoping to push online publishing in that direction. From charging for online newspaper access to charging for Hulu, media execs are looking for non-advertising ways to fund their sites and networks.
They could sweeten the deal by making the opt-in process completely miserable. You'll probably have to hand over your email address and then get tons of junk email in order to access content for free. I already experience this for one local newspaper, but imagine if there were new regulations as an excuse!
If you think the web is a bit messy right now, just wait until you have to opt-in all the time. The intentions of the bill may be to protect the consumer, but it more likely will create ultimatums: agree to advertising, pay for content or miss out altogether.
That's just my opinion. What's yours? Sound off in the comments.