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FTC Settles Flash Cookie and COPPA Claims

Online advertiser ScanScout has entered into a consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission in connection with claims it made that consumers could opt out of receiving targeted ads by changing their computer’s web browser settings to block cookies.  According to the FTC, these claims were deceptive with respect to the use of so-called “Flash … Continue Reading

Self-Regulatory Council Releases Enforcement Decisions

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 … Continue Reading

DAA Releases “Self-Regulatory Principles for Multi-Site Data”

Yesterday, the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) announced the release of new “Self-Regulatory Principles for Multi-Site Data,” voluntary self-regulatory standards to govern the collection, use, and sharing of data concerning user activity across non-affiliated websites.  The DAA, an umbrella organization for advertising trade groups, already maintains self-regulatory principles for online behavioral advertising (OBA).  Notably, while the … Continue Reading

Bono Mack Holds Hearing About Consumer Privacy Expectations

Yesterday, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade held a hearing entitled , “Understanding Consumer Attitudes About Privacy.”  The hearing featured a single panel with a mix of industry representatives and consumer privacy advocates, including representatives from Intuit, Microsoft, the Digital Advertising Alliance, Evidon, and the World Privacy Forum.  A primary focus of the … Continue Reading

House Subcommittee Discusses COPPA Updates, Teen Privacy

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade held the latest in its series of hearings on Internet privacy Wednesday morning. The hearing — titled “Protecting Children’s Privacy in an Electronic World” — focused on the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed updates to the regulations implementing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act … Continue Reading

Article 29 Working Party Meets the European Advertising Industry over Self-Regulatory Code

The representatives of IAB Europe and EASA, European advertising and marketing industry associations, met with the Article 29 Working Party, a group of European data protection authorities, on 14 September 2011 to discuss the industry’s self-regulatory code on Online Behavioural Advertising.  As we blogged here, the Article 29 Working Party had previously voiced concerns over … Continue Reading

Preliminary Results Reported From Stanford “Tracking the Trackers” Study

This week, Stanford Security Lab reported preliminary results from a platform it has been developing, a chief application of which is to detect various forms of third-party tracking in an automated manner.  According to researcher Jonathan Mayer’s release, which emphasizes that these are “preliminary findings from experimental software,” Stanford’s system has detected that over half … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Reaffirms Application of First Amendment to Children

Last week, the Supreme Court issued its much anticipated decision in the Brown v. Entertainment Merchant’s Association case.  Justice Scalia, writing for Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, held that a California law restricting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, and mandating “18” labels for such games, violates the First Amendment. The decision is not … Continue Reading

FTC Launches Online Advertising Review

by Rob Sherman and Allison Ray The FTC’s recent announcement [PDF] that it will update its decade-old guidance on online advertising—known as Dot Com Disclosures [PDF]—has inspired animated industry discussion. In its request for comments, the FTC highlighted that forums for online advertising that we take for granted today — such as social media and … Continue Reading

California Privacy Claims Survive Motion to Dismiss In NebuAd Lawsuit

In a recent order, Judge Henderson of the District Court for the Northern District of California denied NebuAd Inc.’s motion to dismiss in Valentine v. NebuAd Inc., No. C08-05113 TEH, finding that plaintiffs had sufficient statutory standing to assert claims under the California Invasion of Privacy Act (“CIPA”) and the California Computer Crime Law (“CCCL”) … Continue Reading

California DNT Hearing Scheduled For May 3

As we have previously posted, California State Senator Alan Lowenthal has introduced do-not-track legislation with the support of Consumer Watchdog and other public advocacy groups.  Most recently, the California Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a May 3, 2011 hearing on the bill.   SB 761 directs the California attorney general to adopt regulations requiring companies that collect online data to allow … Continue Reading

FTC Reaches Settlement with Online Advertiser Chitika on Opt-Outs

Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it has reached a settlement with Chitika, Inc., an ad network that tracks a user’s online activities in order to deliver advertising targeted to the individual user’s interests.  In its complaint, the FTC claimed that Chitika made statements that (1) users could opt out of targeted advertising by clicking on an “Opt-Out” button and (2) … Continue Reading

UK Information Commissioner Issues (Vague) Warning on Cookies

Since the 2009 amendments to Article 5(3) of the ePrivacy Directive (2002/58/EC) regarding cookies and consent, there has been considerable debate over what web sites and ad networks must do in order to deploy cookies lawfully, and over what constitutes informed consent from users (e.g., opt-in versus opt-out).  For a flavour, see the Article 29 Working Party Opinion 2/2010 on online behavioural … Continue Reading

Growing Diversity in Advertising Opt Outs

A former intern at the controversial company RapLeaf has launched a new privacy manager site called SelectOut, which helps users opt out of behavioral advertisements online.  As of the end of January, SelectOut had already facilitated 50,000 opt outs.   SelectOut offers similar features to the opt-out features available at AboutAds.info, a site sponsored by … Continue Reading

Privacy Lawsuit Against Cable One Dismissed

Today the District Court for the Northern District of Alabama dismissed the class action lawsuit filed against our client, Cable One, Inc., for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the named plaintiff lacked standing.  The litigation arose out of a limited test of NebuAd Inc.’s “deep packet inspection” technology, which was used to create anonymous, … Continue Reading

Roundtable, Commissioner Brill Discuss Preliminary FTC Staff Report

We have previously reported on the Federal Trade Commission’s December 2010 preliminary staff report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy In An Era of Rapid Change.”  With the February 18, 2011 extended deadline to comment on the report quickly approaching, the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology held a roundtable on Browser Privacy Mechanisms last week.  Participants included … Continue Reading

Ringleader Agrees to Settle Privacy Suits

Ringleader Digital — an online advertising firm specializing in the mobile market — has agreed to settle two putative class actions that were filed against it last fall.  The plaintiffs alleged that Ringleader violated the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, as well as various state privacy and consumer protection laws, by using HTML5 software to … Continue Reading

Banks Explore Advertising On Customer Bank Statements

The Washington Post has published an article describing a relatively new arena for behavioral advertising: your online bank statement.  Participating banks serve marketing to their customers based on the customer’s spending history.  These promotions may be particularly valuable to advertisers because they are targeted based on how a customer actually spends his or her money and because customers can … Continue Reading

Come Clean on Paid-For Tweets, says UK Authority

The Office of Fair Trading, the UK’s answer to the FTC, has established its position on paid-for plugging on social media websites.  According to an announcement issued last month by the OFT relating to an enforcement action pursued against a small UK media firm, online advertising and marketing that fails to disclose that it contains paid-for promotions … Continue Reading

New Canadian Law Regulates Spam

After much mulling, the Canadian Parliament passed, on December 16, Bill C-28, the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act, which creates a new regime for businesses engaged in online marketing.  The legislation regulates commercial “electronic messages,” a term defined broadly to include e-mail, instant messaging, text messages, and messages on “any similar account” — a … Continue Reading

The FTC Seeks To Recover Millions Of Dollars In Unauthorized Charges

Last week, the FTC filed a complaint against an Internet-based enterprise that allegedly caused hundreds of thousands of consumers to pay millions of dollars in unauthorized credit card charges.  According to the complaint, the defendants’ websites advertise the availability of government grants to pay personal expenses and offer “free” information at no risk.  The websites … Continue Reading

Court Holds Subscribers Consented to “Deep Packet Inspection”

The United States District Court for the District of Montana has dismissed [PDF] several class action claims against the Internet service provider Bresnan Communications arising out of its partnership with the controversial (and now defunct) online advertising firm NebuAd.  Bresnan subscribers alleged that the ISP allowed NebuAd to test a system to profile subscribers’ online activity using deep packet inspection … Continue Reading

FTC’s Chief Technologist Explains “Do Not Track”

In an interview with ClickZ, the FTC’s incoming chief technologist, Edward Felten, provides insight into the scope of the Commission’s proposed “Do Not Track” mechanism and how compliance could be enforced.  Felten makes three key points:   The proposed mechanism applies only to third-party tracking for behavioral advertising.  It would not apply to a publisher’s … Continue Reading
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