NAI Unveils Revised Mobile Privacy Code

mobile-rulesThe self-regulatory group Network Advertising Initiative, whose members include Google, Yahoo and Aol Advertising, has released a revised code of conduct regarding information collected from mobile apps. The updated code introduces new requirements regarding interest-based data collection and advertising.

The proposed draft rules address types of information unique to mobile, such as geolocation data and “personal directory data,” e.g. calendar, address book, phone calls, text messages, photos or videos that are stored on devices and logs. The NAI requires its members to obtain opt-in consent before collecting either geolocation data or personal directory data.

“I was pleased to see the NAI release an updated code of conduct that addresses the use of data for mobile apps for the first time. Hopefully this will raise the bar in privacy protection,” said Maureen Ohlhausen, commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, at the NAI’s annual summit meeting in New York City earlier this week.

Revisions to the code of conduct include an “enhanced notice requirement” that requires members to include the standard industry “AdChoices” icon or other form of notice on interest-based advertising. Given the smaller space that advertisers must contend with on a mobile device’s screen, it remains to be seen if the AdChoices icon will obscure ad creatives or be greatly shrunken, making it difficult for consumers to notice it.

The new code also requires member companies to inform consumers about the details of cross-app advertising. Companies must inform consumers about the type of data collected, how it will be used and how long it will be retained, among other items.

In addition, sexual orientation is now included in the list of sensitive data. Under the revised code, companies are prohibited from collecting information about a user’s status or perceived sexual orientation for interest-based advertising without obtaining opt-in consent.

Consistent with its privacy rules for data collected from desktop computers, the mobile draft rules require companies to let people opt out of receiving behaviorally targeted ads on mobile devices.

After consumers opt out, the proposed NAI code allows ad networks to continue collecting “non-personally identifiable” data, which it defines as data “that is linked or reasonably linkable to a particular computer or device,” such as IP addresses. The organization expects to finalize its Mobile Application Code by next month, according to NAI executive director Marc Groman.

Founded in 2000, the NAI is made up of about 90 member companies. The companies include data management platforms (DMPs), demand-side platforms (DSPs), supply-side platforms (SSPs), ad exchanges, data aggregators, yield optimization firms, and sharing utilities.

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