BMW, Scottrade, Volkswagen Revise Sites To Comply With Privacy Code

bmw-adchoicesCar companies Volkswagen and BMW, as well as online financial company Scottrade, revised their Web sites in order to comply with the ad industry's privacy rules, the Better Business Bureau said on Monday.

All three marketers allowed data collection on their sites by ad companies that power retargeting programs, but didn't inform consumers about the data collection or their ability to opt out, according to decisions issued by the BBB's accountability program.

BMW and Scottrade changed their sites' privacy policies in response to inquiries by the BBB, the group said on Monday. Volkswagen, which also revised its site, already planned to do so when the BBB began asking questions.

BMW now includes a “cookies and tracking” section in its privacy policy, as well as links to the opt-out page run by the self-regulatory group Digital Advertising Alliance. Scottrade and Volkswagen also revised their privacy policies to notify consumers about online behavioral advertising.

BMW also added an “AdChoices” icon to the bottom of its site, while Scottrade and Volkswagen added links specifically about interest-based advertising. People who click on those links are taken directly to pages where they can opt out of online behavioral advertising. Including an AdChoices icon, or a link about online behavioral targeting, satisfies the self-regulatory requirement that publishers provide “enhanced notice” about data collection on their sites. The BBB recently said that it will begin enforcing the enhanced-notice requirement next year.

Genie Barton, vice president and director of the BBB's Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program, says the organization investigated the companies by using Evidon's Ghostery -- a tool that tells Web users what trackers are present on sites -- and reading their privacy policies.

“We want to be sure consumers have notice and the opportunity to decide whether they want to participate in interest-based advertising,” she says. She added that ads by the companies named today complied with the DAA's principles. It was only when the companies acted as publishers -- and allowed third parties to collect data -- that they were out of compliance with the self-regulatory rules.

She also said that the third parties that collected the data from BMW, Volkswagen and Scottrade were using it to retarget consumers with ads from those companies.
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