ONLINE INTEREST-BASED ADVERTISING ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM
Case Number: 02-2011
Advertising Accountability Program
November 8, 2011
A company has responsibility to ensure that the mechanisms it employs to fulfill the
Transparency and Consumer Control Principles are fully functional.
Veruta/MyBuys, Inc. (Veruta or the company) is a provider of online retargeting and
product remarketing services. Veruta engages in the collection and use of data for online
behavioral advertising (OBA) purposes as defined in the cross-industry Self-Regulatory
Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising (Principles):
Online Behavioral Advertising means the collection of data from a
particular computer or device regarding Web viewing behaviors over time
and across non-Affiliate Web sites for the purpose of using such data to
predict user preferences or interests to deliver advertising to that computer 2
or device based on the preferences or interests inferred from such Web
viewing behaviors. (Principles at 9-10, Definition G.).
OBA PRACTICE AT ISSUE
One of the cornerstones of the Principles is “consumer control.” (Principles at 14,
Principle III.). A third party must provide the consumer with an easy-to-use mechanism
that allows the consumer to exercise choice regarding the collection and use of data from
his or her device for OBA purposes. The practice at issue is whether the company was
providing consumers with choice as required under the Consumer Control Principle.
The obligation of a third party to enable a consumer to exercise choice is explained in the
Principles as follows:
A Third Party should provide consumers with the ability to exercise choice with
respect to the collection and use of data for Online Behavioral Advertising
purposes or the transfer of such data to a non-Affiliate for such purpose. Such
choice should be available from the notice described in II.A.(2)(a); from the
industry-developed Web page(s) as set forth in II.A.2.(b)(i); or from the Third
Party’s disclosure linked to from the page where the Third Party is individually
listed as set forth in II.A.2.(b)(ii). (Principles at 14, III.A.).
BASIS OF INQUIRY
On August 22, 2011, the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program
(Accountability Program) tested the functionality of the consumer choice mechanism
Trials using five Internet browsers—Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome
and Opera—revealed that the link to the opt-out mechanism was missing. Therefore, a
consumer could not initiate an opt-out request.
demonstrating that the problem was persistent and was not corrected by the company
during the month that testing was repeated.
In response to the Accountability Program’s inquiry, the company acknowledged that the
functioning. The company reported that the opt-out link was inadvertently omitted
during a software upgrade. The company stated that upon receipt of the notice of inquiry,
it took immediate steps to correct the problem and provide the required opt-out
All companies have the obligation to monitor their data collection and advertising
practices to ensure compliance with the Principles, including ensuring that their notice
and choice mechanisms are fully functional at all times. The Accountability Program
finds that Veruta was not compliant with the Consumer Control Principle because it
failed to exercise reasonable care to ensure that its consumer choice mechanism was
Upon notification by the Accountability Program, the company promptly supplied the
link that enables the consumer to initiate an opt-out request. The Accountability Program
has conducted subsequent tests on the opt-out mechanism on all browsers previously
tested and found the link to be active and the opt-out mechanism to be functioning as
required by the Principles.
The Accountability Program’s goal is to ensure that companies engaged in OBA comply
with the Self-Regulatory Principles. The Accountability Program’s monitoring and
complaint processes are designed to identify areas of possible non-compliance, to make
companies aware of potential non-compliance and to work with companies to rectify noncompliance. Veruta has implemented the Accountability Program’s recommendations
and the practice at issue has been resolved.
My Buys appreciates the opportunity to participate in the self regulatory process, and
thanks the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program for bringing this
issue, which was an unintended by-product of a software upgrade, to its attention. We
are pleased that we were able to correct the issue promptly.4
DISPOSITION OF DECISION
Practice voluntarily corrected.