Security & Fraud

FTC Settles With Turn Over Tracking Consumers Online After They Opted Out

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it has signed off on a final settlement with Turn, the marketing company, over charges it tracked consumers online even after they opted out of tracking.

According to a press release by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Turn of Redwood City, Calif., was charged with deceiving consumers by tracking them on the Internet and via mobile applications even after the consumers took the extra steps to opt out of the tracking. In December, Turn agreed to settle with the FTC. The FTC consent order prohibits Turn from misrepresenting the extent of its online tracking or the ability of users to limit or control the company’s use of their data. Turn also must provide an opt-out for consumers who do not want their information used for targeted advertising that actually works and place a prominent hyperlink on its home page that takes consumers to a disclosure explaining what information the company collects and uses for targeted advertising, the FTC said.

The FTC contended Turn misrepresented the extent to which it continued to track consumers even after they opted out of such tracking. The company’s privacy policy told consumers they could block targeted advertising by using their web browser’s settings to block or limit cookies. Turn used unique identifiers to track tens of millions of Verizon Wireless customers, even after they blocked or deleted cookies from websites, the FTC lawsuit alleged. The opt-out mechanism also only applied to mobile browsers.

In June, the FTC filed a complaint against Singapore-based digital advertising firm InMobi, which tracked the locations of hundreds of millions of consumers without permission. In its complaint, the FTC stated that the firm undermined phone carriers’ freedom of choice in regards to the collection of their location data. According to the FTC, InMobi’s advertising network touches over 1 billion devices around the world via the apps that integrate its code. Even more troubling, a large proportion of the apps InMobi is embedded in are designed for young children, which is problematic since the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act bans such data gathering.

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