Continuing its recent focus on website operators’ obligations under the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA Principles), today the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program) released the results of formal inquiries into the practices of Scottrade, Inc. (Scottrade) and BMW of North America, LLC (BMW). The Accountability Program found that while the companies were already complying with the in-ad notice requirements of the OBA Principles, they were not yet fulfilling the OBA Principles’ requirements for Transparency and Consumer Control on their websites. The companies agreed to implement the Accountability Program’s recommendations and have updated their websites.
“Today’s Decisions once again emphasize the importance of providing consumers with Transparency and Consumer Control, the cornerstones of the OBA Principles, on the websites they visit,” said Genie Barton, Council of Better Business Bureaus VP and Director of the Accountability Program. “The OBA Principles are designed to ensure that a consumer has notice about a company’s data collection and use practices and the ability to exercise informed and readily available choice about whether they wish to participate in interest-based advertising.”
Those companies that are fully compliant with all the Transparency and Consumer Control requirements of the OBA Principles except the enhanced notice link for third-party collection of information for OBA purposes have until January 1, 2014 to meet that requirement. Companies that are out of compliance with other website requirements or with in-ad notice and choice run the risk of facing an Accountability Program enforcement action at any time.
Finally, the Accountability Program today released an administrative disposition resolving a similar inquiry regarding Volkswagen of America, Inc. (VW). In response to the Accountability Program’s letter of inquiry, VW explained that it had been working with counsel to update its privacy policies and was in the process of implementing counsel’s recommendations on its website. Because VW was already voluntarily and proactively coming into compliance with the OBA Principles on its website when the Accountability Program began its inquiry, the Accountability Program closed that case via an administrative disposition rather than a decision.
The Accountability Program’s inquiries were conducted under Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program Procedures which are available here.
About Advertising Industry Self-Regulation: ASRC establishes the policies and procedures for advertising industry self-regulation, including the National Advertising Division (NAD), Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), National Advertising Review Board (NARB), Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) and Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program). The self-regulatory system is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Self-regulation is good for consumers. The self-regulatory system monitors the marketplace, holds advertisers responsible for their claims and practices and tracks emerging issues and trends. Self-regulation is good for advertisers. Rigorous review serves to encourage consumer trust; the self-regulatory system offers an expert, cost-efficient, meaningful alternative to litigation and provides a framework for the development of a self-regulatory solution for emerging issues.
To learn more about supporting advertising industry self-regulation, please visit us at: www.advertisingselfregulation.org.
 The DAA’s Consumer Choice Page is located at http://www.aboutads.info/choices.