Ad Industry To Start Enforcing Mobile Privacy Rules In September

Starting in September, ad companies will have to allow people to opt out of receiving ads that are targeted based on data collected across mobile apps, the self-regulatory group Digital Advertising Alliance said on Thursday.

The DAA's mobile privacy code, which was unveiled in 2013, requires ad networks and other companies to notify consumers about cross-app advertising and allow them to opt out, via an app.

Earlier this year, the DAA released a mobile opt-out app, AppChoices, which is available for free from Google Play, the Apple App Store and Amazon Store. The ad industry's rules also require companies that collect data across the mobile Web sites to allow consumers to opt out of receiving targeted ads on their mobile devices.

Although the self-regulatory group announced the mobile privacy rules almost two years ago, the industry had not previously set a compliance deadline. “We give companies a reasonable amount of time to make sure that everything's in order,” says Lou Mastria, executive director of the DAA.

The mobile advertising code mirrors the industry's longstanding privacy rules for behavioral targeting on desktops and laptops, but includes some requirements geared for smartphones and tablets. Among others, the DAA says that ad networks, app developers and other players in the mobile ecosystem must obtain consumers' opt-in consent before collecting geolocation information and address-book data.

Mastria says the Better Business Bureau's online accountability program will monitor cross-app advertising proactively and also respond to complaints.

That organization has been enforcing the desktop privacy rules -- which apply to data collected from consumers' desktop and laptop browsers -- for four years. In that time, the group has named more than a dozen companies -- including publishers like BuzzFeed and Yelp, ad tech companies like Turn and Blue Cava, and marketers like Volkswagen and Scottrade -- that revised their practices or privacy policies after receiving inquiries.

The DAA isn't the only organization to release an app enabling people to opt out of mobile behavioral advertising. Privacy compliance companies TRUSTe and Ghostery also offer similar apps. Also, the largest mobile operating systems now come with built-in controls that enable people to control cross-app targeting. Apple, for instance, offers a “limit ad tracking” setting, which conveys to ad networks that users don't want to be tracked. Google offers a comparable feature for Android device.

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