Businesses in Florida, and elsewhere, using web-based marketing need to be aware of the hornet’s nest of regulations governing their interactions with online consumers. On October 28, 2014, the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program (the “Accountability Program”) announced decisions in regard to five significant companies, relating to data collection for online behavioral advertising.
The Accountability Program regulates certain online behavioral advertising across the Internet, and is affiliated with the Better Business Bureau. On October 14, 2013, the Accountability Program released the First Party Enhanced Notice Compliance Warning (the “Warning”). As explained in the newly released decisions, the Warning imposed an obligation on certain companies “to provide enhanced notice on each page where they allow third parties to collect data for online behavioral advertising (OBA) and to link that real-time notice to their explanation of their third-party OBA practices where they also provide a link to a compliant opt out.”
According to the Accountability Program’s decisions, the targeted companies did not comply with the Warning. When the Accountability Program visited one of their websites, “it observed data collection by third-party companies known to engage in OBA but did not find the required enhanced notice link on each page where data collection took place.” While there were mitigating circumstances that resulted in voluntary remediation, more severe remedies are available to the Accountability Program.
The Accountability Program’s newly rendered decisions demonstrate its determination to enforce companies’ behavioral advertising obligations. Businesses may be well served to determine, through consultation with an attorney, whether they fall under the enforcement powers of the Accountability Program and, if so, whether their website is in compliance.