Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Shame’

Visible Measures on privacy: not so serious

April 20, 2009

Visible Measures, a video analytics and advertising network whose customers include sites like MTV and MySpace, starts off their privacy policy with the same boilerplate you can find in privacy policies everywhere:  “Visible Measures takes your privacy seriously …”

We’ve learned to take these kinds of statements with a grain of salt, and to look instead at what the companies are really doing — in ways we can see — to show that they take consumer privacy seriously.

In the case Visible Measures, here’s what we have learned so far.  

Good news, they make reference to a cookie opt-out program in their privacy policy:

You may choose to opt-out of Visible Measures’ cookies by clicking here. If you do so, that opt-out will be effective for all Visible Measures enabled sites.  Please note that it may take up to 90 days to process your opt-out request and that tracking may occur in the interim. 

Bad news:  the “opt-out” link is to an email address, privacy@visiblemeasures.com, and not  to a URL that immediately plants an opt-out cookie on your machine (like the ones provided by 50+ tracking networks).

I can’t imagine what they were thinking — that you need to email Visible Measures (providing even more information about yourself, hmmm) and they email you back an “opt out” cookie?  And this could take up to 90 days to process?  I must be missing something.

So as suggested, I sent them a note to privacy@visiblemeasures.com, thinking that maybe if nudged they might complete the promised implementation.

visiblemeasuresreturntosender

As you can see, the email bounced — no such mailbox.  Tried six hours later, and through another email provider — no success.  Emails to the press contact on visiblemeasures.com didn’t bounce.  Could it be that the privacy email address isn’t actually set up?

(According to the Internet Archive, the page and the email link have been the same since Febuary 2008; the fundamental problem doesn’t look like a temporary glitch.)

No chief privacy officer listed here or findable on LinkedIn, and none of the officer bios mentions consumer privacy as a part of anyone’s responsibilities. No TRUSTe certification.  Not so “serious” if you ask me.

While we wait for this to be corrected, Visible Measures joins the Hall of Shame, as another behavioral targeter who does not offer any opt-out choice to consumers.

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Hall of Shame: Tracking networks without opt-outs

April 17, 2009

Since we’re spending so much time researching and classifying the opt-out processes of the scores of tracking networks, it’s probably also up to us to keep track of those networks who do not provide opt-out capabilities for consumers.  In most cases, their privacy policies explain that users can delete cookies or change browser settings, but (as far as we know) these companies offer no ability for users to download an opt-out cookie.

Thankfully, this is a decided minority among tracking networks.  These are the companies still swimming against the tide by not offering consumers any meaningful choice.

As we watch for changes to the privacy policies of these companies, we will be delighted to update this list and announce when any of these folks come on board with true opt-out options.  In nearly all cases we have already emailed the privacy officers at these companies to ask why they don’t have an opt-out option, and either have had their policy confirmed or not received a reply.

Here’s the list, with links to the company’s privacy policies. Think of it as a Hall of Shame for behavioral targeting.

adap.tv

Adaptive Ads

AdBrite

adengage.com

Adotube (New Wave Media)

Amazon (associates and affiliates network)

Blogads

Brightcove

Burstmedia

centro.net (ad serving cookies are not explained well)

Commission Junction

Clearspring

Clickability

Clip Syndicate

Congoo

ContextWeb

CPXinteractive

Datranmedia

IACadvertising

Kitara Media

Lookery

Lucid Media

Magnify360 (could not even find a privacy policy!)

Popular Media

Quantcast

Shorttail Media

Tattoo Media

Videoegg

Visible Measures (no real opt-out available)

YuMeNetworks

Of course, please let us know if we have missed any or if we have it wrong on any of these, particularly if any of these companies in fact do not track consumer behavior across websites using cookies.