The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has issued guidance on new rules regarding Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) which take effect on February 4 2013 which website operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will need to be familiar.

This is particularly important for website operators who advertise in UK where the new rules principally apply, including (since the Island is a "White Listed" country) gambling websites.

OBA is a form of targeted advertising in which advertising networks and other third parties partner with websites from whom they collect data on users' web viewing behaviour in order to target them with advertising, by placing a "cookie" on the user's web browser.

The new rules aim to secure transparency and control for web users in the use of OBA by requiring third parties to provide notice to web users, in or around online display advertisements, that they are undertaking OBA eg through an icon in the corner of the display advertisement.

The rules require that third parties must not only provide notice in the advertisement but ensure that it links to a mechanism whereby the user can opt out of the collection and use of their web viewing behaviour for OBA purposes.

In addition third parties must gain explicit consent before using forms of OBA that collect "all or substantially all" data on web viewing behaviour, often referred to as 'deep packet inspection'. This rule relates primarily to OBA taking place at internet service provider (ISP) level, where the ISP collects information from websites visited by a particular computer or browser to deliver advertising.

The rules also prevent third parties from creating interest segments that specifically target children aged 12 or under.

There are some exceptions to the application of the new rules, eg web analytics, ad reporting or ad delivery, the collection and use of information for OBA by website operators on their own website(s), and the use of OBA in rich media, in-stream videos online or on mobile devices (although it is envisaged that the use of OBA on mobile phones will be covered in due course).

Although the new rules apply only to third parties, website operators and ISPs will need to be familiar with them. This is because a new rule in the Compliance section of the Code requires that if the ASA cannot identify the relevant third party the advertiser (ie the website owner or operator) must co-operate, in good faith, with the ASA to enable it to do so.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.