Earlier this week, the industry self-regulatory program set up by online advertisers to deal with reported privacy problems released decisions in its first six compliance cases.  The Online Internet-Based Advertising Accountability Program, which was established in August, determines whether reported businesses are complying with the self-regulatory principles for online behavioral advertising.  The Better Business Bureau oversees the program.

The Accountability Program initiated formal enforcement efforts against six companies in connection with the companies’ opt-out mechanisms.  Four of the companies offered consumers the ability to opt out of the collection and use of data for online behavioral advertising through opt-out cookies that were set to expire more quickly than the five-year time frame that is called for by the industry standard.  In the other two cases, the opt-out mechanisms offered by the companies were inaccessible to consumers due to missing buttons or links.  Each company voluntarily modified its practices to comply with the self-regulatory principles. 

These self-regulatory efforts come at a time when both Congress and the FTC are considering whether self-regulation is adequate to deal with consumer privacy challenges.   Representatives from the Accountability Program have said that companies that do not respond and comply with its enforcement efforts may be referred to the FTC.