Self-Regulatory Unit, Prompted by Consumers, Brings Ad Tech Companies into Full Compliance with Privacy Principles

Arlington, VA – May 22, 2019 – The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program, an independent enforcer of the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory Principles, released the results of inquiries into two advertising technology companies. These initiatives were the results of consumer complaints, which resulted in the companies, IQM Corporation and Kargo Global, Inc., updating their privacy disclosures and consumer opt-out tools to ensure that they met the requirements of industry best practices for targeted advertising, also known as interest-based advertising.

“Providing and maintaining easy-to-use opt-out tools are essential to honoring consumer privacy,” said Jon Brescia, Accountability Program Director of Adjudications and Technology. “Today’s cases illustrate that industry members like IQM and Kargo recognize this fact and take it seriously.”

The Accountability Program routinely receives and responds to consumer complaints, providing users with information about online advertising, tips on digital privacy, and guidance on opt-outing of data collection for IBA. When complaints identify companies that may not be in compliance with the DAA Principles, the Accountability Program will also initiate compliance reviews. Today’s release follows from inquiries opened as a result of actionable consumer complaints.

Today’s first case concerns IQM, an advertising technology company that specializes in political campaigns and voter intelligence. IQM was brought to the attention of the Accountability Program after a consumer alleged they were unable to opt out of IQM’s data collection practices for IBA. This complaint prompted a full examination IQM’s IBA practices. After receiving an Accountability Program inquiry letter, IQM immediately indicated its support for consumer privacy and worked diligently to extend its existing privacy policies and practices to come into full compliance with the DAA Principles.

To achieve full compliance with the DAA Principles, IQM:

  • updated its privacy disclosures to clarify the scope of its IBA practices
  • worked with the DAA to join the WebChoices and AppChoices opt-out tools
  • added instructions in its privacy policy to help users opt out of IBA taking place on smartphones
  • revised its contracts to require that its partners get consumer consent before collecting precise location data through apps for IBA
  • added instructions to its privacy disclosures explaining how to revoke location data permissions on smartphones.
  • revised its privacy policy to meet the requirements of the DAA’s Cross-Device Guidance by providing notice of this type of data collection as well as methods for users to opt out on each of their devices
  • added an enhanced notice link to its website footer connecting website visitors to information about data collection for IBA occurring on the IQM website and how users can opt out.

Today’s second case concerns the advertising technology company Kargo, which came to the attention of the Accountability Program after a number of consumer complaints alleged that the company’s opt-out tools did not work properly. After receiving these complaints, the Accountability Program immediately conducted a technical analysis of Kargo’s opt-out tools on its website and the DAA’s WebChoices page, reviewed Kargo’s privacy disclosures, and then reached out to the company with its concerns. After making contact with the Accountability Program, Kargo committed to full compliance with the DAA Principles. During its discussions with Kargo, the Accountability Program underscored to the company the importance of monitoring its opt-out mechanisms to ensure that they are always functioning, pointing to technical failures that can occur when companies rely on vendors to maintain these tools.

Kargo acknowledged the Accountability Program’s findings and worked hard to resolve the issue with its consumer opt-out tool. The company consulted frequently with the Accountability Program as it addressed the issues with its web-based opt-out mechanisms as well as a couple of other compliance concerns.

Today’s case release brings to 104 the public actions taken by the Accountability Program.