Turn agrees to settle with FTC over privacy violations for digital ad tracking

The ad tech firm was found continuing to track users even after they opted out.

Chat with MarTechBot

Turn, which operates a demand side platform (DSP) and data management platform (DMP) that facilitate digital ad targeting, has settled with the Federal Trade Commission over charges it continued tracking consumers even after they opted out of tracking.

The FTC alleged that Turn used unique mobile identifiers to track Verizon Wireless customers regardless if they had blocked or deleted cookies in their browsers. The FTC also found that Turn’s mechanism for consumers to opt out of ad targeting was only available for mobile browsers, 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. “The FTC’s order will ensure the company honors consumers’ privacy choices.”

As part of the agreement, Turn must provide an effective opt-out for consumers and feature a link to opt out prominently on its home page. A link now available on the home page goes to an opt-out page on the Turn site.


[Click to enlarge]

The agreement bars Turn from misrepresenting how and where it collects user data and the ways that consumers can control use of their data.

From Turn’s current privacy policy:

[I]f you delete Turn cookies from your browser, that action also has no impact on the non-PII previously collected and stored by Turn. Turn will retain the information as described in the Data Retention for Turn Advertising Technology section. If Turn is able to associate one Turn ID with other Turn IDs (for example, through the receipt and use of a separate identifier, such as a mobile device advertising identifier, and/or ID syncing), Turn may transfer the non-PII associated with one Turn ID to the other Turn IDs.

The consent order is subject to public comment for 30 days, 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.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Ginny Marvin
Ginny Marvin was formerly Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day-to-day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin wrote about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.