Turn settles with FTC over charges the ad tech firm kept tracking users even after they opted out
Opting out does not stop data collection from happening.
Advertising technology firm Turn, which operates a demand side platform (DSP) and data management platform (DMP) to facilitate interest based ad targeting, has come to an agreement with the United States Federal Trade Commission over charges that it continued to track consumers on the web and in mobile applications even after they opted out or tried to keep from being tracked.
The FTC says Turn used unique mobile identifiers to track Verizon Wireless customers evenif they had blocked or deleted cookies in their browsers. The Commission also found that Turn’s opt out mechanism was available for mobile browsers only, not mobile applications, as the company had claimed.
“Turn tracked millions of consumers online and through mobile apps even if they had taken steps to block or limit tracking,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said in a statement. “The FTC’s order will ensure the company honors consumers’ privacy choices.”
As part of the FTC agreement, Turn must provide an effective opt-out for consumers and feature a link to opt out prominently on its home page. That link is live in the website’s header and leads to an opt out page on the Turn site.
The agreement bars Turn from misrepresenting how and where it collects user data and the ways in which consumers can control use of their data. The consent order is subject to public comment for 30, through January 19, 2017. The Commission will then decide whether to make the agreement final. If finalized, Turn will be held accountable for any future violations, each of which could result in a civil penalty of up to $40,000.
Turn’s opt out mechanism is browser specific, meaning users will need to opt out on every browser and device they use. A separate opt out is designed for mobile applications. Opting out also does not mean Turn won’t continue collecting data: “Turn may also continue to collect and share the information identified above and in its Privacy Guidelines and use such information for purposes other than delivering tailored advertising.” That data can include mobile advertising identifiers, demographic and interest information provided by third-parties, location data and more.