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FTC Commissioner Ohlhausen Applauds Industry’s Successful Self-Regulation Privacy Program

June 11, 2013

Last week, technology and policy leaders from across the country gathered in Washington for a Summit to discuss the role of effective self-regulation in ensuring the future of advertising-supported Internet content. Convened by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), of which the ANA is a member, the Summit largely focused on enhancing transparency and ensuring that consumers are aware of the choices they have with respect to the manner in which they receive advertising.

During the Summit, the industry’s efforts were recognized by U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen, who applauded the industry for its privacy opt-out program, which she said has “been one of the success stories in the space.”

She noted that the industry has moved quickly to meet privacy challenges and alleviate the concerns of Internet users who have become increasingly concerned about their online privacy. Ohlhausen called the Advertising Option Icon, the icon that consumers can click to easily find information about interest-based advertising, “an innovative way to reach consumers about their privacy options.”

In her remarks, she said that self-regulation works best when it is supported by compliance and tough enforcement and recognized DAA for “making enforceability a reality.” She was encouraged by DAA’s work to ensure that “companies live up to the promises they make” and help correct issues before they become serious problems for consumers. Already the enforcement arm of the DAA self-regulatory program has successfully finalized 19 cases.

Ohlhausen further remarked that she does not see a present need for Congress to pass new laws to protect consumer’s Internet privacy. She stated that she believed the FTC’s Section 5 false, deceptive, and unfair acts or practices authority was sufficient to regulate the marketplace. It is clear that DAA’s self-regulatory program that provides consumers with broad choice and control over how and whether they receive interest-based advertising is working.

The industry is constantly striving to adapt and keep up with the fast moving technology landscape. To that end, DAA will soon release guidelines for the use of advertising on mobile devices, another area of broad discussion at the Summit. These new guidelines will no doubt be a game changer for the industry and mobile users alike.

Finally, there were important panels at the DAA Summit on the key role Online Behavioral Advertising was playing in helping to create a more efficient, effective, and relevant Internet. Additionally, a panel on Internet self-regulatory efforts described how the DAA program has now been established in almost 30 countries. Clearly, the DAA has had an extraordinary reach in its less than 3 year existence.

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