Digital Advertising Alliance Sets Sights on Mobile Consumer Privacy

The Digital Advertising Alliance, a champion of privacy self-regulation, unveils set of principles for advertisers and tech companies to provide notice and controls over consumers' data on the mobile Web.

By Kenneth Corbin
Wed, July 24, 2013

CIO

The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), a coalition of leading advertising trade groups and companies from a variety of industries that has been advancing a self-regulatory approach to online privacy, is rolling out a set of principles to cover the mobile Web.

Formed in 2010, the DAA has pushed the Advertising Option icon to sites across the Web. That icon, which today garners some 1 trillion impressions a month, invites consumers to click to learn about the various companies involved in serving the ad, what information is being collected and how they can limit it.

The Growing Need for a Set of Privacy Guidelines for the Mobile World

mobile privacy

Now, with smartphones becoming the device of choice for many users to access the Web, the group is planning to bring a similar set of guidelines to the mobile world.

"What we're hoping to do is basically bring that kind of transparency, that kind of control, over to the mobile Web and the mobile app environment," Lou Mastria, managing director of the DAA, said in an interview with CIO.com.

(International Data Group, the publisher of CIO.com, is one of the companies that participates in the DAA's self-regulatory privacy framework.)

The rollout comes amid continued scrutiny into the practices of online advertisers, ad-tech companies and data brokers, with some members of Congress advocating for legislation to codify a set of privacy protections. Federal officials at the Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission have also been probing industry practices.

The DAA has been an active voice in those discussions, serving as a consistent advocate for strong but self-regulatory guidelines. To critics skeptical that the industry can effectively regulate itself, the group points to its enforcement mechanism through which the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Direct Marketing Association (DMA) hold firms to account with the threat of referring violators to the FTC or other government authorities. To date, the BBB and DMA have taken public action on 19 companies for violating the DAA's rules, each of which resulted in the firms coming into compliance, according to Mastria.

"Our enforcement authority's pretty muscular," he says.

DAA Calls for Privacy Notice and Controls Over Personal-Directory Data

Now, the group is setting its sights on the mobile Web, with plans to draft rules governing privacy notice and controls for data that is shared across multiple applications, location-based information and the photos, text logs and other content that users create--what the DAA calls personal-directory data.

The new guidelines will largely be an extension of the framework the DAA developed for the desktop, including transplanting the ad options icon to the small screen and making privacy disclosures more accessible to users.

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