Results tagged “Meaningful Choice” from IABlog

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Privacy advocates and regulators have challenged the ad industry to provide meaningful choice when it comes to the collection and use of behavioral data. In response, industry leaders have come together in support of the enhanced ad notice icon, which leads the user to industry wide disclosure and choice options. Although some still question this approach, it is well positioned to have significant industry adoption as a framework for consumer choice on traditional websites.

PrivacyChoice_Policymaker.jpgThe industry is at an earlier stage when it comes to providing notice and choice on mobile devices. The infrastructure delivering mobile ads isn’t as well developed, and the ecosystem is more complex with carriers, devices and operating systems each playing a role. Nevertheless, given the rapid growth expected for mobile advertising, and the heightened privacy concerns associated with location-aware mobile devices, it is imperative that we also focus on how to deliver meaningful choice in this new environment.

The in-ad use of the enhanced ad notice icon faces some obstacles when applied to ads that appear within mobile apps, a growing segment of online ads. Not only does there tend to be less visible real estate in mobile ads, there’s no easy way (like cookies) to store the preference so that it is accessible across or between different apps and the mobile browser. Companies are working on ways to store tracking preferences at the device-level, but to work this will take a new level of cooperation between advertisers, operating system providers, and app makers—each with their own privacy agenda.

Despite these challenges, meaningful choice may actually become easier for ads in mobile apps because they can provide a different choice framework. Unlike typical websites, every app already has a moment of choice before any data collection begins: the moment of installation. Users typically install new apps through a marketplace (like Apple’s App Store) where they search, browse, and select new apps. Each app has a reference page, which can include links to terms of service and privacy information. Notice-and-choice for tracking, possibly even the icon itself, can be provided at this stage in the process of installing an application.

Is it asking too much of mobile app makers to create appropriately titled links and a privacy policy with the right disclosure? In fact, privacy policies are already required of websites under the laws of many states. Even though a minority of apps have a published privacy policy, that can change as privacy disclosure becomes easier and more automated. For example, we recently launched PrivacyChoice Policymaker, a 10-minute guided policy generator for mobile apps. It provides robust first-party privacy policy for the app’s own data collection, but also automatically adds the right disclosure for ad-company tracking. This disclosure includes company-specific opt-outs when available, and can link to any Do Not Track approach that may emerge.

Over time, privacy choices will be embedded more elegantly into mobile apps and operating systems. But as a starting point, every app should have a privacy policy and apps with ads should include robust notice-and-choice for third-party tracking. Ad delivery companies are in the best position to make this happen directly with their publisher clients. If app developers can be asked to take this relatively painless step, choice may even come sooner—and be more meaningful—in mobile apps than it has been so far on the Internet.

About the Author

sp_brock_jim.jpgJim Brock

Jim Brock is Founder and CEO of PrivacyChoice. You can follow him on Twitter @privacychoice.

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