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Criminal Investigation Underlines Need for Mobile Transparency

Criminal Investigation Underlines Need for Mobile Transparency Bob Walczak
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that “Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating whether numerous smartphone applications illegally obtained or transmitted information about their users without proper disclosures.”

Now, I’m not going to speculate on any wrongdoing but I do think that this investigation (and others like it) should serve as a warning call for the industry. Never has transparency been more essential than when dealing with a mobile device. A cell phone is inherently more personal – it’s always with you, it knows where you are, how you communicate and with whom. It’s a unique combination that is unmatched by any other medium. Of course, this combination presents a tremendous amount of opportunity for advertisers but it must be approached with discretion and a respect for privacy.

There seems to be the perception amongst journalists and legislators that advertisers are afraid to offer a way to opt-out. I believe this to be a misconception. We’ve spoken before about how Ringleader has a database of over 50 million unique devices – and since we launched our Media Stamp technology we have had just a couple thousand opt-outs. Consumers generally understand the value of tracking and prefer targeted ads to the shotgun approach – they just like to know what is being collected and how it is being used. As an industry, let’s be proactive with our response rather than reactive. Put out as much information as you can about what info is being collected, how it is being used and where people can go to opt out.

We learned a lot about digital advertising and transparency by watching the evolution of advertising online. There’s no need to relearn the same lessons – let’s set the bar high for mobile and pickup where online left off.

Bob Walczak serves as the CEO of Ringleader Digital, the next-generation mobile advertising network. He is responsible for closing more than $8 million in financing on Ringleader’s behalf, as well as negotiating various strategic partnerships. Mr.

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