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Digital ads group promotes a mobile consumer privacy policy

Kenneth Corbin | July 29, 2013
The Digital Advertising Alliance, a champion of privacy self-regulation, unveils set of principles for advertisers and tech companies to provide notice and controls over consumers' data on the mobile Web.

mobile privacy

The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), a coalition of leading advertising trade groups and companies from a variety of industries that has been advancing a self-regulatory approach to online privacy, is rolling out a set of principles to cover the mobile Web.

Formed in 2010, the DAA has pushed the Advertising Option icon to sites across the Web. That icon, which today garners some 1 trillion impressions a month, invites consumers to click to learn about the various companies involved in serving the ad, what information is being collected and how they can limit it.

Protecting mobile users
Now, with smartphones becoming the device of choice for many users to access the Web, the group is planning to bring a similar set of guidelines to the mobile world.

"What we're hoping to do is basically bring that kind of transparency, that kind of control, over to the mobile Web and the mobile app environment," Lou Mastria, managing director of the DAA, said in an interview with

The rollout of the group's proposal comes amid continued scrutiny into the practices of online advertisers, ad-tech companies, nd data brokers, with some members of Congress advocating for legislation to codify a set of privacy protections. Federal officials at both the Department of Commerce and theFederal Trade Commission have also been probing industry practices with an eye toward regulation.

The DAA has been an active voice in those discussions, serving as a consistent advocate for strong but self-regulatory guidelines. To critics skeptical that the industry can effectively regulate itself, the group points to its enforcement mechanism through which the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Direct Marketing Association (DMA) hold firms to account with the threat of referring violators to the FTC or other government authorities. To date, the BBB and DMA have taken public action on 19 companies for violating the DAA's rules, each of which resulted in the firms coming into compliance, according to Mastria.

"Our enforcement authority's pretty muscular," he says.

Privacy notices, data security
Now, the group is setting its sights on the mobile Web, with plans to draft rules governing privacy notice and controls for data that is shared across multiple applications, location-based information and the photos, text logs and other content that users create-what the DAA calls personal-directory data.

The new guidelines will largely be an extension of the framework the DAA developed for the desktop, including transplanting the ad options icon to the small screen and making privacy disclosures more accessible to users.

"What we would expect to see in the next little while is the icon would be used in signaling to consumers when data is being collected in these various ways," Mastria says. "One of the big things that we do is we take privacy disclosure notices around cross-app data and we take them out of the privacy policy and put them in a highly visible area, highly visible real estate."


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