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FTC OKs Settlement With Online Tracker Turn

The Federal Trade Commission has settled with Turn of Redwood, Calif., over FTC allegations that the marketing company continued to track consumers online even after they had opted out of such tracking. 

The settlement comes as the FCC is looking to return to the FTC the same authority to pursue violations of ISP privacy policies as it has over websites, authority that was lost when the FCC reclassified ISPs as common carriers.

Turn facilitates targeted digital ads but was doing too much facilitating, the agency suggested. "Turn used unique identifiers to track tens of millions of Verizon Wireless customers, even after they blocked or deleted cookies from websites," the FTC said.

Under the consent decree, Turn is barred from misrepresenting the extent of its online tracking or users' ability to limit the company's control over their data but must also come up with an effective opt-out mechanism for users who don't want their data used for targeted ads and place a "prominent hyperlink" on its home page to disclosures about what data it collects and uses. 

There are also the traditional reporting and compliance conditions, including accounting records and records of any complaints.

Turn agreed to the settlement in December, but the FTC had to put it out for public comment.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.