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BBB Welcomes White House Recognition of Self-Regulation in Protecting Consumer Online Privacy
February 27, 2012

Arlington, VA – At today’s White House meeting to launch its new Privacy Initiative, the Obama Administration recognized the importance of accountable industry self-regulation in providing consumers with essential privacy protections. The Council of Better Business Bureaus’ (CBBB) Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program has been at the center of industry self-regulatory efforts to enforce provision of transparency and consumer choice.

C. Lee Peeler, President and CEO of the National Advertising Review Council and CBBB Executive Vice President, and Genie Barton, CBBB Vice President and Director of the Accountability Program, joined other privacy leaders at today’s invitation-only White House event. Barton welcomed the Administration’s recognition of the importance of accountability programs in the self-regulatory process. “The objective oversight provided by the BBB Accountability Program is critical to success. This partnership between the online advertising industry and BBB, working closely with the Federal Trade Commission, is a great example of how industry self-regulation can and should work.”

In his remarks at the White House event, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz commended BBB and the industry leaders who created the Accountability Program. “Today we are proud to report that a powerful group of leaders has come together to respond to our call…the online advertising industry has been working to develop an icon that consumers could click to opt out of receiving targeted ads. Today, although it is still a work in progress, the ad industry has obtained buy-in from companies that deliver 90 percent of online behavioral advertisements; and, with the Better Business Bureau, it has established a mechanism with teeth to address non-compliance, backed up with FTC enforcement.”
 
The BBB Accountability Program enforces industry consensus principles that provide consumers with greater transparency and control over the use of their browsing history across websites for targeted advertising and other purposes. Any business or organization that collects data on a non-affiliated website (such as ad networks, data aggregators, website publishers and advertisers) is subject to the Accountability Program’s oversight.

To ensure compliance, the Accountability Program monitors industry’s online practices and launches inquiries when it appears that a company may not be complying with the industry consensus standards, then works to bring the company into compliance. It publishes all its decisions to ensure transparency and accountability.  In cases of non-compliance or non-participation, the program refers the company to the FTC.

The BBB Accountability Program has been invited to participate in the multi-stakeholder working group, convened by the Department of Commerce to implement the White House “Privacy Bill of Rights.” The first call will take place today.

More information on the Accountability Program is available at:
www.bbb.org/us/interest-based-advertising/ and www.aboutads.info.

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ABOUT BBB: For 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB has Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies and Charity Reviews on 11,000 charities, all available for free. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 116 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation. More information is available at www.bbb.org.