On December 20, 2016, the FTC announced that it has agreed to settle charges that Turn Inc. (“Turn”), a company that enables commercial brands and ad agencies to target digital advertising to consumers, tracked consumers online even after consumers took steps to opt out of tracking.

In its complaint, the FTC alleged that Turn made various misrepresentations in its privacy policy, including that (1) blocking or limiting cookies would restrict Turn’s ability to track a consumer, and (2) consumers could opt out of targeted advertising on mobile applications. The FTC alleged that although Turn’s privacy policy represented to consumers that by blocking or limiting cookies, consumers could block targeted advertising, Turn used unique identifiers to track millions of customers even after they blocked or deleted cookies. Additionally, the FTC alleged that the opt-out mechanism applied only to mobile browsers, not mobile applications, so Turn was able to show consumers targeted advertising in mobile apps even where a consumer elected to opt out of tailored advertising.

Under the terms of the proposed consent order, Turn is barred from misrepresenting the extent of its online tracking. The proposed consent order also requires Turn to provide an effective opt-out mechanism for consumers which respects consumers’ device settings, and to place a prominent hyperlink on its homepage to a disclosure of its information collection and use practices with respect to targeted advertising. Once finalized, the consent order would become binding on the company, and each future violation of the order could carry a civil penalty of up to $40,000.