Digital Advertising Company Settles FTC Charges It Deceptively Tracked Consumers Both Online and Through Their Mobile Devices

Settlement ensures consumers can control targeted ads

For Release

Turn Inc., a Redwood City, California company that enables sellers to target digital advertisements to consumers, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers by tracking them online and through their mobile applications, even after consumers took steps to opt out of such tracking.

“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.”

According to the FTC’s administrative complaint, Turn’s privacy policy represented that consumers could block targeted advertising by using their web browser’s settings to block or limit cookies. In fact, the complaint alleges that Turn used unique identifiers to track millions of Verizon Wireless customers, even after they blocked or deleted cookies from websites.  

In addition, the agency charged that Turn’s opt-out mechanism only applied to mobile browsers, and did not block tailored ads on mobile applications as the company claimed.

The proposed FTC consent order bars 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 effective opt-out for consumers who do not want their information used for targeted advertising 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 Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint and to accept the consent agreement was 3-0. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through January 19, 2017, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit comments electronically by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $40,000.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Mitchell J. Katz
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161

STAFF CONTACTS:
Jamie E. Hine
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2188

Justin Brookman
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2214