Liftopia Failed To Comply With Industry Privacy Rules, Watchdog Says

Liftopia, a company that sells tickets for ski lifts around the country, failed to comply with the ad industry's privacy code, a unit of the Better Business Bureau said Wednesday.

Liftopia allegedly allowed outside companies to collect data about online visitors for ad-targeting purposes, but failed to offer "enhanced" notice explaining online behavioral targeting. Providing "enhanced" notice requires website operators to add a separate link that takes visitors directly to an opt-out site. That separate link is supposed to appear on every page where data about visitors is collected.

The Better Business Bureau's Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program says it investigated the e-commerce platform in response to a consumer's complaint. Last year, the group received around 4,000 new complaints, reflecting a 21% increase from 2016, according to Jon Brecsia, director, adjudications and technology for the accountability program.

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"Companies who wish to play the odds in hopes of evading our scrutiny and that of the general public may well find themselves the subject of yet another Accountability Program inquiry," the group wrote.

Liftopia resolved the self-regulatory organization's concerns by adding a link marked “Your Ad Choices” on each page of its website where targeting data is collected. People who click on that link are taken to a portion of the company's privacy policy dealing with online behavioral advertising; that passage includes links to home pages operated by the self-regulatory groups including the Digital Advertising Alliance and Network Advertising Initiative.

The case invovling Liftopia comes more than four years after the BBB's Online Accountability Unit warned publishers to provide “clear, meaningful and prominent” links on all pages where third parties -- like ad networks and exchanges -- collect data about visitors in order to serve them with targeted ads.

The group has brought similar cases against other businesses, including beer giant Anheuser-Busch and e-commerce company Wayfair.

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