ICOMP is an industry initiative for organisations and businesses involved in Internet commerce, particularly online publishers, advertisers, Internet service and network providers, and agencies active in online advertising. ICOMP sponsors conferences and press roundtables, issues policy briefs, conducts consumer research, and advocates generally for a more competitive, transparent, privacy friendly, and secure online marketplace.
More than 70 companies, trade associations, consumer organisations and individuals have endorsed ICOMP’s principles. These members represent 18 countries across Europe, North America and the Middle East. ICOMP is funded by member contributions as well as sponsorship from Microsoft. Burson-Marsteller acts as its secretariat and Lord Alan Watson is ICOMP’s first Chairman.
ICOMP’s mission is to promote widespread support for principles that are essential to a healthy online environment. Key goals are to encourage competition, transparency, data privacy and respect for intellectual property protection as well as the adoption of best practices to promote creativity, innovation, safety and trust. ICOMP’s overall objective is the sustainable growth of the Internet consistent with the rule of law.
Vigorous competition is the best way to ensure that consumers enjoy the full benefits of the online marketplace. For competition to flourish, no single company should be allowed to abuse its market power to the detriment of competition or consumers. Where any company has a disproportionate influence over the online marketplace, it is under a special responsibility to act in a responsible and transparent way.
Free and fair competition also strengthens the ability of consumers to exercise informed choice in relation to their privacy and the use of their personal data for behavioural advertising. Transparency promotes informed choice and helps build trust.
Respect for intellectual property rights is also the key to consumer welfare. Intellectual property rights provide the incentive for investment in research and development, and for the creation of content that is the life blood of the online world. These three core principles — robust competition, strong data protection and respect for intellectual property rights — form the basic foundation of online commerce. They also provide the basis of ICOMP’s activities.
To this end, ICOMP:
- Helps educate and inform stakeholders and decision-makers how the online marketplace functions and how competition rules should be applied.
- Campaigns for compliance with data protection rules and for encouraging companies to compete in the provision of privacy safeguards for consumers online.
- Brings together participants from across the Internet to identify and promote best practices.
We recognise the enormous challenge regulators face in deciding how best to apply existing rules to the complex, novel, and rapidly evolving online world. ICOMP has been created to assist regulators in this undertaking by identifying best practices, encouraging industry standards, and, where appropriate, commenting on industry trends, new services and other developments in our market.
Our work is guided by the following principles:
Advertisers, web publishers and consumers all rely on healthy competition in online advertising to fund online innovation and content. Online advertising will continue to serve as the engine that drives the online economy, but only if vibrant competition in this critical sector is preserved.
- Regulators should carefully scrutinise any transactions in the online advertising sector that would create or enhance a dominant market position, significantly reduce existing or future competition, or leave advertisers, online publishers, or consumers with less genuine choice.
The Internet and e-commerce will reach their full potential only if consumers are informed of the ways in which information about them is used and are confident that their privacy will be respected online.
- Regulators should ensure that the online collection and use of data about users, including their search and/or web surfing histories, comply with applicable laws and industry best practices, and provide users with adequate notice and informed choice.
Intellectual property rights foster creativity and innovation, including in the online environment, by enabling firms and individuals to enjoy the commercial fruits of their efforts.
- All stakeholders should respect the rights of authors and publishers while encouraging investments in innovation and the emergence of legitimate, sustainable online business models.
We urge regulators to scrutinise carefully industry practices and consolidation in online advertising, and to work with the undersigned and other interested parties to promote the development of a transparent, competitive, and sustainable online advertising sector.
More than 60 companies, trade associations, consumer organisations and individuals have endorsed ICOMP’s principles. Find them here.