Website Operators Must Give Consumers Real-Time Notice When Third Parties Are Collecting Information for OBA or Face Enforcement on Jan.1st
Arlington, VA – Oct. 14, 2013 – The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program) today released its first Compliance Warning. The Warning makes clear that the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA Principles), which the Accountability Program enforces, require first parties such as website operators to provide consumers with notice when third parties are collecting data for OBA on their websites. The Accountability Program will begin enforcement of this requirement on January 1, 2014. Companies that are out of compliance with other requirements of the OBA Principles still face enforcement actions at any time.
The Compliance Warning is a new tool that the Accountability Program will use to alert the advertising industry about its obligations where the enforcement body determines that a significant minority of companies that are otherwise in full compliance are confused about one particular aspect of the OBA Principles. The Accountability Program may also issue guidance about the Multi-Site Data Principles or the Mobile Guidance, as warranted.
Today’s Compliance Warning addresses one of the most significant innovations of the OBA Principles—enhanced notice. Enhanced notice shines a light on the cross-site collection and use of data for OBA by providing consumers with a real-time signal such as the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) Advertising Option Icon (AdChoices Icon) or a phrase such as “AdChoices,” wherever and whenever such collection or use is occurring. This notice links to an easy-to-use mechanism by which consumers can control their participation in interest-based advertising.
Prior to this innovation, consumers had no direct information when data regarding their browsing activities was being collected by third parties or whether first parties were transferring such data to unrelated third parties for use in interest-based ads. Nor did consumers always know when an ad was tailored to their interests.
The Accountability Program today also released a document administratively closing seven formal inquires of first parties that failed to provide this enhanced notice but were otherwise fully compliant with all the OBA Principles. Such Administrative Closures may be used when: 1) a company has had longstanding compliance with all other requirements of the OBA Principles; 2) a requirement appears to have confused a significant number of companies; 3) there is no prior FTC guidance or established industry practice regarding a particular requirement; and 4) the company promptly began working with the Accountability Program to implement its recommendations and has achieved or will soon achieve full compliance.