Blog

Submitted by Anthony Matyjas... on March 31, 2015

NAI is pleased to release our sixth Annual Compliance Report today, providing a summary of the findings from our compliance monitoring processes during the 2014 compliance period (January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014).

As NAI Counsel and Director of Compliance, I am proud of this comprehensive Report and of the time and effort invested in it by our staff and by representatives of our member companies.

The 2014 report marks the largest Annual Review conducted by NAI, and the first one to evaluate compliance with the updated 2013 NAI Code of Conduct, which went into effect in January 2014.

This year’s Compliance Report shows that NAI members continue to demonstrate a commitment to the high standards set out in NAI’s Code. The Report is evidence that self-regulation can and does work, and its publication is important because it allows consumers and regulators to evaluate NAI’s compliance program and self-regulatory process for themselves.

As the Report explains in much greater detail, the NAI staff monitors compliance with the Code throughout the year and works with members on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance, even as their business models and technologies evolve. For example, we engage in automated technical monitoring of our member companies Opt-Out Mechanisms. Last year, we also added monitoring tools to automatically flag changes to member companies’ privacy disclosures. These efforts are in addition to interviews with high-level executives at those companies, individual assessments of extensive questionnaires, and manual reviews of contract samples, public-facing statements, and non-public marketing materials. Not only does this extensive process allow us gauge overall member compliance with the Code, it also helps NAI gain unparalleled insight into the state of our industry.

Some key highlights of the Report include:

  • Technical Monitoring:
    • NAI made continuous improvements to our automated monitoring capabilities.
    • We launched a new Privacy Disclosures Scanner in 2014.
    • Our staff manually examined over 600 member cookies for lifespan and behavior.
       
  • Consumer Communications:
    • NAI reviewed nearly 9000 consumer queries received via email, postal mail, or telephone.
       
  • Education:
    • Members donated over 5.5 billion impressions to the NAI educational campaign, nearly tripling last year’s contributions. o This additional exposure led to over 4.5 million page views of the NAI’s educational material, 1.5 million more than last year.
       
  • Choice:
    • Over 5 million visits to the NAI Opt-Out page, over a million more than in 2013.

Through our rigorous compliance review process, NAI found that members are upholding their commitments to NAI’s high standards. That does not mean that we did not find any potential violations of the Code. We did not find any material violations of the Code during the 2014 compliance review period. NAI staff worked with many member companies to spot and resolve potential issues early, before they could affect a large number of consumers, or otherwise necessitate sanctions or enforcement procedures. For instance, we found that some member companies had minor issues such as broken opt out links in their privacy policies or elsewhere on their sites. However, in all of these cases, members had provided consumers with an alternative mechanism for consumers to opt out, such as a link to the NAI opt out page. In the end, whenever these issues were discovered, they were found to be unintentional, were resolved quickly, and affected a limited number of consumers.

I should note that NAI of course retains the option to sanction members if Code violations are found to be material; however, we have found that maintaining dialogue and communication with member companies on an ongoing basis helps resolve issues quickly, to the benefit of the consumer and the overall health of the ecosystem.

At NAI, we often say that self-regulation only works when high standards are backed by a true commitment to accountability and a rigorous enforcement procedure. This Report serves as evidence that self-regulation can and does work. NAI will leverage the findings of the Report to further strengthen our strong self-regulatory program.

Submitted by NAI on March 30, 2015

NAI Annual Compliance Report Highlights Members’ Strong Commitment to Responsible Data Collection, Use and Consumer Privacy

WASHINGTON, DCMarch 30, 2015 – The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), the leading non-profit self-regulatory association comprised exclusively of third-party digital advertising companies and dedicated to responsible data collection and its use, today released its 2014 Annual Compliance Report, a review of members’ adherence to the NAI Code of Conduct. The report, based on findings from the NAI staff’s comprehensive monitoring processes during the 2014 compliance period, shows that NAI members – 96 third-party digital advertising companies -- met their obligations under the provisions of the Code and demonstrated their commitment to consumer privacy and industry best practices.

“At NAI, we know that self-regulation only works if the standards are backed by robust enforcement,” said Noga Rosenthal, NAI General Counsel and Vice President of Compliancy and Policy. “Our compliance staff worked with members to ensure that they complied with the Code, and the 2014 Compliance Report shows that member companies continue to take their obligations under the Code seriously.”

NAI’s compliance monitoring in 2014 required member companies to adhere to the NAI Code, which, imposed notice, choice, transparency, use limitations, data security, access, and accountability requirements with respect to Interest-Based Advertising (IBA) activities. The Code, updated in 2013, applies Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs) to IBA and Ad Delivery and Reporting (ADR) activities of member companies in the United States.

NAI’s compliance staff includes professionals with diverse backgrounds, ranging from law to computer science. The compliance process begins before a company can join NAI. NAI staff conducts a thorough review of every applicant before any company can claim NAI membership. The staff conducts annual reviews of each member, examining thousands of pages of privacy policies, internal policies, website content, and other documents. NAI has also developed unique technical monitoring tools. For example, NAI’s “Opt-Out Scanner” monitors members’ opt-out mechanisms and constantly gathers data on their functionality and reliability. In 2014, NAI began using a “Privacy Disclosures Scanner” that alerts NAI staff to changes to members’ privacy policies so that they can review for any inadvertent deletion of notice requirements under the Code.

“NAI’s compliance monitoring processes allow us to identify potential Code violations and quickly address them before they affect a large number of consumers,” said Rosenthal. “We found that some member companies had minor Code violations such as broken opt out links in their privacy policies or elsewhere on their sites. None of the issues discovered in the 2014 compliance period were deemed to constitute material non-compliance with the Code because the underlying issues were resolved quickly, were found to be unintentional, and affected a limited number of consumers.”

“NAI retains the option to sanction members if Code violations are found to be material; however, we have found that maintaining dialogue and communication with member companies on an ongoing basis helps resolve issues quickly to the benefit of the consumer and increases the overall health of the ecosystem, continued Rosenthal.

“Through publication of this report, consumers, regulators and others can see for themselves how the NAI compliance program and self-regulatory process works,” said Doug Miller, Global Privacy Leader, AOL Inc., and Chairman of the NAI Board of Directors. “The report also illustrates how this process shapes the evolution of the NAI’s policies and procedures, including goals for further improving its compliance program in 2015.”

The NAI leverages the findings of the Annual Compliance Report to further strengthen its self-regulatory program. In 2015, the NAI will work to finalize guidance for member use of non-cookie technologies, such as statistical identifiers, for IBA. NAI is assessing these new technologies as they become part of NAI members’ IBA practices, with the goal of implementing policy that is consistent with NAI's history of effective self-regulation. NAI staff will also help prepare member companies to comply with the Mobile Application Code, which is currently scheduled to go into effect later this year.

“I congratulate the NAI staff for this comprehensive report,” said NAI’s new President and CEO Leigh Freund. “NAI is a model for effective self-regulation because our standards are measurable, disciplined, rigorous, and backed by a serious commitment to enforcement and accountability. As a result, the NAI self-regulatory program fosters innovation and encourages creative problem-solving. I look forward to working with NAI members to ensure that NAI’s self-regulatory program remains strong.”

Download the 2014 Annual Compliance Report here.

Submitted by NAI on March 27, 2015

Register today to take advantage of the Early Bird Registration Rate and save $100 for the NAI Annual Summit, May 21, in New York City. The registration rate increases from $299 to $399 per attendee tomorrow!

Join your colleagues in the third party advertising ecosystem to receive the latest updates on initiatives for beyond cookies, onboarding and compliance, using privacy by design to manage your cross-device platform, the Internet of Things, and international considerations.

If you believe in innovation, state-of-the-art digital advertising, high standards and best practices for the third party online ecosystem, you need to be here!

Reserve your spot at the NAI Summit. Register now.

Submitted by leigh.freund on March 16, 2015

By Leigh Freund

It’s my first official day as NAI’s new President and CEO and I am eager to get started. I’ve been working with Marc Groman, Board members and staff for the past couple of weeks to ensure a smooth transition. I’m greatly impressed with the dedication and teamwork of everyone involved with NAI and I’m ready to get started!

I’m starting my job during an exciting time at NAI. In a couple of weeks we will be releasing our 2014 Annual Compliance Report. The Report provides a summary of members’ adherence to the NAI Code of Conduct based on findings from the NAI staff’s ongoing monitoring processes during the 2014 compliance period. Accountability is a cornerstone of what we do at NAI, and we devote an incredible amount of resources and time to our compliance program. I was able to see the NAI compliance staff in action as they worked to finalize the report and am excited for its release to the public.

In the coming weeks we will also announce updates to the Code and guidance for member use of non-cookie technologies and much much more.

As I mentioned in my guest post, I look forward to meeting NAI members at the 2015 NAI Member Summit in New York City on Thursday, May 21. This event is a great opportunity for NAI members to learn about the important issues that our industry faces today, from innovation and changing technologies to new business models that enable brands to more effectively engage with their customers across screens, devices and platforms.

I look forward to meeting all our members and colleagues. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at 202-347-7305.