Watchdog Faults Purple And Adf.ly Over Privacy Disclosures

Online mattress retailer Purple and web-shortening service Adf.ly failed to comply with ad industry's privacy code, a unit of the Better Business Bureau said this week.

Both companies allowed outside parties to collect data about online visitors in order to serve them with targeted ads, but failed to adequately inform people about the practice, according to opinions issued by the BBB's Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program. 

Purple's privacy policy had a section about "third party services," but that section didn't reference online behavioral advertising, according to the watchdog. Purple also didn't have links to pages where people could opt out of receiving behaviorally targeted ads, the watchdog said.

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In addition, Purple also failed to offer "enhanced" notice explaining online behavioral targeting. Providing "enhanced" notice requires adding a separate link that takes visitors directly to an opt-out site. That separate link is also supposed to appear on every page where data about visitors is collected.

Purple revised its site after it was contacted by the organization. The case "reiterates the need for enhanced notice on first parties’ websites," the accountability program wrote.

Adf.ly, operated by the UK-based company x19, also failed to adequately inform consumers that data collected about them could be used for targeted ads, or to offer links to sites where consumers could opt out of receiving targeted ads. As with Purple, Adf.ly also failed to offer "enhanced" notices about behavioral advertising.

Instead, the company allegedly gave visitors the following information: “Our advertisers may download cookies to which we have no control. If used, these cookies are downloaded by clicking on an advertisement found on our website.”

Adf.ly also revised its site after it was contacted by the BBB's watchdog. The company added an "enhanced notice" link at the bottom of each page of its site where third parties collect data that's used for ad targeting; that link takes people to a new Adf.ly privacy policy, which includes a link to a page where people can opt out of receiving targeted ads.

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