Accountability Program Begins Enforcement of Cross-Device Guidance

Privacy watchdog warns companies to give consumers clean notice and choice

Arlington, VA –February 1, 2017 – Today, the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program begins enforcement of the Digital Advertising Alliance’s latest guidance, the Application of the Self-Regulatory Principles of Transparency and Control to Data Used Across Devices. Interest-based advertising (IBA) now occurs across a range of devices—consumers may see the same ad tailored to their interests across their laptops, tablets, work computers, and mobile devices. In response to these changes, the DAA extended the core principles of transparency and consumer control of IBA to this challenging technical environment.

To ensure that companies understand their compliance obligations, the Accountability Program released its Cross-Device Compliance Warning, which provides further implementation guidance to companies on how to translate the Principles to this new model of data collection that links several devices to a particular consumer. Companies collecting data across linked devices for tailored advertising must provide consumers with transparency and control, just as they would with any other interest-based ad, or risk a formal inquiry from the Accountability Program.

The Accountability Program notes that companies have been afforded a commercially reasonable time to come into compliance, have had clear notice of the compliance deadline, and have been given the opportunity to confidentially consult the Accountability Program about any questions or problems they have. It should therefore come as no surprise that the Accountability Program has begun monitoring IBA across devices and will begin sending formal inquiries.

“Cross-device IBA is an example of market evolution, and the DAA Principles are growing with it,” said Jon Brescia, Director of Adjudications and Technology. “The Accountability Program looks forward to bringing our independent, vigorous compliance capabilities to monitor this new technical environment.”

In addition to explaining the basic rules of the cross-device road, the compliance warning highlights specific compliance tips for companies. For example, the Accountability Program reminds companies that the DAA Principles are enforced across the entire digital ecosystem. First and third parties are expected to work together to ensure these obligations are met.

The Accountability Program also reminds companies that the Cross Device Guidance applies to IBA powered by both deterministic and probabilistic identification techniques. So, whether a company is using a single-sign-on feature or a common IP address to associate devices, it is covered. Companies must be particularly careful to ensure that their description of how their opt out functions matches what their opt-out mechanism in fact does.

The full suite of DAA Principles, including the Cross-Device Guidance, can be found at www.aboutads.info/principles. To read about the Accountability Program’s first five years of enforcement actions, which provide companies with detailed guidance on how to achieve compliance with industry standards for privacy in IBA, you can request a free copy of the DAA’s new casebook.

“As advertisers develop new ways to reach consumers, self-regulation is critical to fostering marketplace trust between advertisers and consumers,” said Genie Barton, CBBB VP of Digital Advertising. “Self-regulation has the benefit of being flexible as well as strong, making it a perfect tool for setting and enforcing standards in an ever-shifting landscape.“

Today’s release brings to 75 the public actions taken by the Accountability Program.