Congress is apparently holding hearings this week
about behavioral advertising -- the controversial online practice of targeting ads to people based on where they surf. In the past, Congress has suggested that firms such as NebuAd that do this are breaking the law
. However, it appears that AT&T may have been less than truthful in its own testimony
. The company took a hardline stance against behavioral advertising that wasn't clear and set up as an opt-in approach. Yet, as MediaPost notes, a top behavioral advertising company named Audience Science, lists AT&T as a customer and has a testimonial on the site. When a Congressional Rep asked AT&T's policy VP who was testifying about the company (accidentally calling it "Audio Science"), AT&T claimed it didn't have a relationship with the company. When the MediaPost reporter asked Audience Science about all of this, AT&T's logo suddenly disappeared from the company's website.
Now, it seems quite likely that this is all a rather innocent mistake -- and the AT&T VP, Dorothy Attwood, simply didn't know about the company's relationship with Audience Science. AT&T is a big company, and certainly the left hand might not always know what the right hand is doing -- but that's a big part of the problem here. Even when an official company policy might be to avoid these sorts of things, there's as half decent chance that someone lower down on the totem pole has signed off on a deal to make use of these technologies.