DAA Mobile Privacy Rules Require Opt-In Consent For Address Books, Geolocation

The self-regulatory group Digital Advertising Alliance on Wednesday unveiled its long-awaited mobile privacy code, which sets out rules for collecting data and serving ads on smartphones and tablets.

As expected, the umbrella group's mobile privacy rules are largely consistent with the industry's long-standing position that ad networks and other companies should notify consumers about online behavioral advertising -- called cross-app advertising in the mobile environment -- and allow people to opt out.

But the rules also have some mobile-specific requirements. Among others, the DAA says that ad networks, app developers and others must obtain people's opt-in consent before collecting geolocation information and address-book data.

The new rules won't be implemented for at least nine to 12 months -- and possibly longer -- while the DAA develops an opt-out mechanism. One possibility involves creating a downloadable app that would enable consumers to specify that they don't want to receive cross-app ads.

“We envision that there will be an app that has the AdChoices icon on it, that consumers can download,” says Stu Ingis, counsel to the DAA. “Through the app, consumers can exercise choice with respect to all of the third parties.”

Apple users already have the option of activating a "limit ad tracking" setting, which conveys to ad networks that users don't want to be tracked. The company also now limits developers' ability to access unique device identifiers. Instead, Apple now offers "advertising identifiers" -- which consumers can control by resetting or deleting.

It's not yet clear how the group will enforce the rules, especially given that many app developers are extremely small companies -- or just a single person -- and don't belong to the one of the groups in the DAA, which includes the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Direct Marketing Association, Association of National Advertisers, and American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Ingis says many ad networks and marketers belong to the a group that's part of the DAA, even if the same isn't true for individual developers. “Many of the companies that consume the data and monetize it fall within our program,” he says.

The smaller trade group Network Advertising Initiative -- itself a DAA member -- also released a final version of its privacy rules today. As with the DAA's rules, the Network Advertising Initiative requires companies to inform people about cross-app advertising and allow people to opt out of receiving behaviorally targeted ads on mobile devices. The NAI counts around 90 ad networks (and other ad tech companies that collect data or serve ads) as members.

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