Mike Zaneis

One sure-fire prediction for 2014: privacy will remain a hot topic for consumers, legislators and any business that stores or uses personal or financial data. Just ask Target. Or Snapchat. Yet 2014 will bring more than just talk. New laws and industry self-regulation for privacy protections are taking shape in ways that will affect marketers in the coming year. Here are three of the most important things to watch

Google, the world's largest Internet search company, is considering a major change in how online browsing activity is tracked, a move that could shake up the $120 billion digital advertising industry. Google, which accounts for about a third of worldwide online ad revenue, is developing an anonymous identifier for advertising, or AdID, that would replace third-party cookies as the way advertisers track people's Internet browsing activity for marketing purposes, according to a person familiar with the plan. The AdID would be transmitted to advertisers and ad networks that have agreed to basic guidelines, giving consumers more privacy and control over

The advertising industry suffered a setback late last night when the Tracking Protection Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium rejected the Digital Advertising Alliance's draft proposal for a universal Do Not Track standard. Instead, the 110-member group will work from another, more comprehensive, document—referred to as the June draft—that even privacy advocates believe faces insurmountable obstacles to adoption by the deadline at the end of this month. For two years, the TPWG has tied itself up in knots in trying to bring diverse interests together to agree to a universal browser-based mechanism for Internet users

The Obama administration plans to ask Congress Wednesday to pass a "privacy bill of rights" to protect Americans from intrusive data gathering, amid growing concern about the tracking and targeting of Internet users.

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