Ever wrote an email lamenting over the tortures of not finding a date, only to realize an hour later than your internet browser is flooded with advertisements on dating sites and ‘finding your perfect partner’? Is it magic, or perhaps your browser just knows you so well?

No, its Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA), but you’d be pardoned for thinking it feels like there’s a hidden camera is watching your every online move.

The Australian Digital Advertising Alliance (ADAA) has developed a set of best practice principles to help regulate this new form of advertising. Called the Australia Guideline for Online Behavioural Advertising, this set of principles aim to build confidence and understanding in OBA and to ensure that in conjunction with existing Australian Privacy law, individual choices are safeguarded when using OBA data.

“By relating ads to users interests, we think ads can become more relevant and useful for consumers; and can lead to higher returns for advertisers and for online publishers,” says Iarla Flynn, head of public policy and governmental affairs at Google Australia and New Zealand.

However, it is crucial that consumers feel that their information is used in a safe and responsible way, and therefore the Guidelines aims to help ensure transparency and accountability in consumer internet behaviour data.

“By giving consumers greater choice and control of their online experience, businesses can be assured that their investments in online advertising will help drive economic growth in a way that is accepted by internet users. An informed and educated consumer marketplace built in a foundation of trust and responsible data handling practices is the best guarantee of a prosperous digital economy,” says Scott McClellan, CEO of the Australian Association of National Advertisers.

Principles in the Guideline promote transparency and choice, internal good practices, consumer awareness and accountability. A consumer information website, http://www.youronlinechoices.com.au has also been set up to educate consumers on OBA and how it works.