Internet Behavioral Ad Program Asks Five Websites to Provide Notice, Choice

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Oct. 29 — Five companies agreed to provide real-time notice and choice to website visitors when third parties collect their information for the purpose of serving interest-based advertisements, the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program announced Oct. 28.

The program, which is operated by the Council of Better Business Bureaus Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC), is one of the accountability agents charged by the Digital Advertising Alliance with enforcing the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA Principles), which require participating entities to provide consumers with transparency and control concerning OBA data collection and use practices.

The cases involving Answers Corp., Best Buy Co., BuzzFeed Inc., the Walt Disney Co.'s and Yelp Inc. represent the program's “promised enforcement” of a compliance warning issued in 2013, the program said in an Oct. 28 statement.

“Today's cases are only the beginning of our enforcement of website notice and choice,” Genie Barton, the program's director, said in the statement. “We strongly urge companies who have questions about their compliance responsibilities under the OBA Principles to contact us before we contact you.”

2013 Compliance Warning

The OBA Principles require that both first parties, such as websites, and third parties, such as ad networks, provide “enhanced notice.” This form of notice involves providing real-time notice to a consumer about OBA data collection and use, as well as a mechanism to opt out of such data collection and use. Enhanced notice can be provided through the Advertising Option Icon, also known as the AdChoices Icon.

In October 2013, the program issued its first compliance warning that gave website operators and publishers until Jan. 1 to provide enhanced notice to consumers about third parties' collection and use of data for OBA.

“While many websites either were compliant with the OBA Principles or lacked third-party tracking for OBA, some popular sites had not come into compliance during the grace period afforded them despite the presence of third-party data collectors on their sites,” the program said in the most recent decisions.

The program discovered that the websites of Answers, Best Buy, BuzzFeed, and Yelp weren't in compliance with the requirement to provide notice and choice to consumers regarding the OBA practices of third parties. All five companies have since voluntarily corrected their practices, according to the decisions.

“Today's decisions remind website publishers that they must shoulder their responsibility to ensure that the delivery of enhanced notice is just as ubiquitous when third-parties are collecting data for OBA on their websites,” the program said in its Oct. 28 statement. “In either situation, a consumer should be able to click on the enhanced notice link and go directly to a place where they can learn more about interested-based advertising and find an opt-out tool.”

The Answers decision is available at

The Best Buy decision is available at

The BuzzFeed decision is available at

The decision is available at

The Yelp decision is available at