The Washington Post

Advertisers release first self-regulation results

The self-regulation program set up by online advertisers to deal with reported privacy problems from within the industry has released the results of its first six compliance cases.

The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program, which was set up in August, determines whether or not reported businesses are complying with its self-regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising created by the National Advertising Review Council. The Better Business Bureau oversees the program.

Consumer advocates have criticized the industry's self-regulation standards for online behavioral advertising in the past, saying that the measures do not adequately protect consumer privacy.

In its inaugural decisions, the council examined cases dealing with opt-out mechanisms. Six companies — Forbes Media Extension, Martini Media, PredictAd, QuinStreet, Reedge and Veruta — changed their opt-out policies to comply with industry standards.

“I was very happily surprised at how quickly these companies responded and how positively they responded,” said Genie Barton, Vice President of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Barton said that all the companies responded to complaints and changed their policies “well within” the mandatory two-week period.

“I think that independent enforcement demonstrates that self-regulation can work and that it is being taken very seriously by this program,” Barton said.

If companies do not comply, Barton said, the council refers them to the the FTC and publicizes the fact that they have refused to come into compliance through a news release and posting.

The NARC identifies companies that are violating the industry principles through a combination of self-monitoring and consumer complaints, Barton said.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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