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EU to look into targeted online advertising

Regulators in the EU are to investigate targeted online advertising in the wake of privacy concerns.

Gabriele Loewnau, a legal adviser to the German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, told Reuters: "This is a very hot topic that can be expected to be part of our work programme next year."

The EU's Article 29 Working Party, which works on data protection matters, has already managed to get Google to cut the time it stores past web searches to 18 months.

Targeted Internet Advertising is likely to become increasingly popular in the coming months, especially with the rise of social networking websites like Facebook that contain a lot of personal information that can be used to specify audiences for relevant ads.

However, many Facebook users have signed a petition organised by action group MoveOn, which is not enamoured by the website's targeted ad system.

"Sites like Facebook are revolutionising how we communicate with each other in a 21st century democracy," said MoveOn's Adam Green.

"But we need to make sure they place the needs and privacy rights of their users ahead of the needs of corporate advertisers."

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