Like Data for Chocolate

Takeaways from a recent mobile video ads case

Our recent Chocolate decision may seem complicated; it actually serves as an illustration of some very basic responsibilities from the DAA Principles.

Collectively, companies’ responsibilities under the Principles all flow from two simple ideas. First, consumers need to know when interest-based advertising (IBA) happens on websites and mobile apps. Second, they should be able to opt out of it if they want to.

These industry standards make it apparent that if you have a website or app and allow collection of IBA data, you need to tell your users. Providing proper notice first means clearly describing your IBA in a privacy disclosure, along with a statement that you adhere to the DAA Principles to let users know that you follow IBA best practices. Your disclosure should also give instructions to users describing how to opt out of IBA. In the desktop context, this means linking to the DAA’s WebChoices page or similar opt-out mechanisms. In the mobile world, this often means pointing users to the AppChoices app for operating systems like Android or iOS.

In addition, proper notice means adding an enhanced notice link on every page of your own website to direct your users to your IBA disclosure. We call it “enhanced” because it is a clear, meaningful, and prominent link that takes users to a place where they can learn more about your IBA practices. Footers and sidebars are handy places to put this.

Correspondingly, if you are collecting data for IBA from someone else’s website or app, you should also make sure consumers have notice. You and the site you are collecting from both share the responsibility to make this happen. This is easy to accomplish if you happen to be serving interest-based ads on the site. Just put a signal (such as the AdChoices icon) on your ad linking consumers to an IBA disclosure.

If, on the other hand, someone else serves the ad on your behalf, make sure they include an enhanced notice signal! If no ads appear on the site—such as when data is collected for retargeting—you may have to work closely with the website operator to make sure enhanced notice happens anyway.

Finally, if you collect precise location data for IBA, you must also seek the user’s specific opt-in consent for this use of their data. This is in addition to the other notice and opt-out requirements for IBA. Whether you do this through standard platform opt-in dialogs or a custom-built solution, be sure to include enough information so that users know how their data will be used.

Our Chocolate decision involved a mobile video ad exchange and mobile SDK mediation platform. Though the company did not serve ads directly to consumers, under the Principles it had a responsibility to respect opt-out choices and pass them to its partners and to make sure its partners include proper notice on any interest-based ads that they serve on its behalf. The company worked with us to make these changes by modifying its technical controls and contractual language with its partners. We appreciate the support of companies like this for industry self-regulation.

Getting IBA privacy practices right can sometimes seem complex. But if you focus on the first principles of transparency and choice, you will be well on your way to meeting your obligations. Of course, if you have any questions about your obligations under the DAA Principles, please feel free to contact us.

 

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