Congress Asking About Customized Web Efforts

Senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have instructed top brass from several companies with strong Web interests--including Google, Microsoft, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon--to report back on whether they've tweaked their ads to match consumers' online habits. Although no E-Commerce companies were initially contacted, if Congress tries to restrict Web sites from customizing their content, it will have a huge retail impact.

There's not much of a real distinction between a traditional banner ad on MSN pushing the latest Disney movie and using the same technique on Macys.com to make sure that purses appear on its homepage and--for this particular customer--all are displayed as pink. As long as the focus is placed on permission rather than banning, the damage should be minimal. Nothing to worry about then. When's the last time you heard of Congress overreacting to something it doesn't understand?

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