Image Credit: FDA Nutrition Label, modified by Metaverse Law
The growing frequency and severity of privacy incidents within the past decade—the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal and Equifax data breach, to name just a few—has made consumer privacy a topic of public attention and concern.
In response to consumers’ increased wariness regarding their private data, some companies are trying to use privacy labels and icons to signal a commitment to privacy protection. The ultimate goal is to make privacy more accessible, transparent, and understandable.
This article reviews the history and current trends around privacy icons and labels.
Privacy Visuals Part I: Icons
In 2010, the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) rolled out its “YourAdChoices” icon – a clickable blue triangular icon found on ads. This was one of the first privacy icons available. The DAA developed this icon in response to speculated federal regulation in the advertising industry.
To address Congressional inquiries into consumer privacy (and any possible resulting legislative efforts), the DAA formed a self-regulatory program with a set of privacy principles for participating companies and developed the YourAdChoices icon. Participating companies can voluntarily elect to place this symbol on their advertisements. By its nature, the DAA self-regulatory program and use of the YourAdChoices icon is not enforced by law. However, the DAA enforces the program by offering a consumer complaint process, public investigation procedure, and if necessary, escalation to a government agency, which happened in the case of SunTrust Bank in 2014.
Typically, the YourAdChoices icon is placed on cross-context behavioral ads—that is, ads targeted to consumers based on a profile of that consumer’s characteristics, preferences, and internet activity. If a browsing consumer views an ad that was targeted to them, they can click the YourAdChoices icon next to the ad to control whether ads should be personalized to them while browsing and to learn why that certain ad was displayed to them.
When the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) came into effect in 2020, it created new privacy requirements for over 500,000 business nationwide . One of the requirements is to prominently display a “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link on a business’ homepage, if a business is subject to CCPA, and “sells” or discloses a consumer’s personal information for valuable consideration. If a consumer submits a request through the link, the business must allow consumers to opt-out of the sale of that consumer’s personal information.
In response to this new requirement, the DAA designed a green version of the YourAdChoices icon for CCPA use. This is called the Privacy Rights Icon.
When implemented correctly by participating companies, the green Privacy Rights icon brings consumers to www.privacyrights.info, a website set up by the DAA to help centralize and facilitate “Do Not Sell” requests across all participating companies.