Sneaker Retailer Finish Line Failed To Comply With Privacy Code, Watchdog Says

Sneaker retailer Finish Line allowed an outside company to collect precise geolocation data from app users without telling them the information would be used for ad targeting, the industry watchdog Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program said Wednesday.

The accountability program, administered by the Better Business Bureau, also found that Finish Line failed to provide "enhanced" notice -- on its website and in the mobile app -- about its data collection practices. The company's website also failed to offer links to either an opt-out page developed by the industry, or a list of the ad-tech companies that collected data from the site and links to opt-out on a company-by-company basis.

The ad industry's privacy code requires operators of websites that collect data for behavioral targeting to give "enhanced notice" of the practice. Doing so requires offering a privacy link on every page where data is collected by third parties. That link must be underneath text like “Interest-based ads,” “About our ads,” “AdChoices,” or “Why did I get this ad,” and also must lead to a site where people can opt out of online behavioral advertising.

The industry's mobile code also requires companies that collect ad-targeting data across multiple apps to inform people of the practice and allow them to opt out of receiving behaviorally targeted ads. Additionally, the mobile code requires companies to obtain people's opt-in consent before drawing on precise location data for ad targeting.

"In the mobile environment as well as the desktop space, first parties must ensure that consumers are provided with enhanced notice of third-party data collection occurring on their digital properties," the watchdog said in a written opinion. "And where certain sensitive data types are at issue, companies should be especially careful to get consumers’ consent before using them for (interest-based advertising)."

Finish Line revised its site and mobile app after being contacted by the BBB's watchdog.

The online accountability program also said Wednesday that another company, men's shirt and accessories retailer Ledbury, failed to offer enhanced notice about data collection on its site. Ledbury has since revised its site, the watchdog said.

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