comments late last week, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill commended the self-regulatory efforts of industry groups regarding online behavioral (or “interest-based”) advertising, but strongly reinforced the need for ongoing monitoring to ensure the self-regulatory regime adequately protects consumers.
Commissioner Brill’s comments come in the wake of increasing media coverage of and legislative attention to behavioral advertising (two bills are pending before Congress), and on the heels of the recently announced second phase of industry self-regulation by the newly formed Digital Advertising Alliance (the “DAA,” consisting of the 4As, the AAF, ANA, DMA, and IAB).
In the second phase, the DAA issued additional guidance on how to implement the original seven self-regulatory principles: Education, Transparency, Consumer Control, Data Security, Consent to Material Change, Limitations on Sensitive Data, and Accountability. The DAA also released a new consumer-facing logo (the “Advertising Option Icon”) to be displayed to consumers when data is collected or used for behavioral advertising, and to signal compliance with the Principles. The license fee for the Advertising Option Icon will be $5,000 per year, and the DAA is expected to release the license agreement within the next few weeks.
A number of platform providers, including Better Advertising and TRUSTe, are seeking (or have already gotten) approval from the DAA to provide compliance services, and to have their platforms approved as a way for companies to certify compliance with the self-regulatory principles.
The FTC is expected to issue a report on the state of online privacy in the next few weeks, which is expected to reflect that collection and use of consumer information is far more extensive than consumers realize, and that the lines between the traditional notions of “personally identifiable information” (“PII”) and non-PII are blurring significantly.
According to comments from FTC commissioners, the FTC will be evaluating the success of the self-regulatory principles based on the ease and understandability of use for consumers, how widely they are adopted across the industry, and whether there is effective enforcement of the principles. The upcoming FTC report will provide a useful indicator of the FTC’s enforcement priorities.