RapLeaf clarifies consumer data privacy position

Consumer data aggregator RapLeaf said this week that it has stopped transmission of Facebook IDs to ad networks and told consumers how to opt out of its data system following a Wall Street Journal investigation into consumer data privacy.

The company said in a statement that it “believes strongly in the privacy rights of the online community” and is “proud of our industry-leading position in providing people with control of their information.”

“To help people manage their data, we go beyond online advertising industry standards by allowing people to either opt out of cookie placement or opt out of RapLeaf permanently,” RapLeaf said in a statement. The company declined further comment.

Thousands of consumers reportedly deleted their profiles from RapLeaf’s service this week following a Wall Street Journal article that disclosed the company was transmitting Facebook IDs to advertising networks.

RapLeaf also detailed, in an October 25 blog post, how consumers can opt out of the service, saying We understand that you might not want personalized content.” Earlier that day, company officials blogged that RapLeaf is not a tracking company but an organization that augments publicly available data, such as voter registration and generic US Census data.

The prior week, RapLeaf said in a blog post that it was previously unaware of the disclosure of Facebook IDs.

“When we discovered that Facebook IDs were being passed to ad networks by applications that we work with, we immediately researched the cause and implemented a solution to cease the transmissions,” the company said. “As of last week, no Facebook ids are being transmitted to ad networks in conjunction with the use of any RapLeaf service.”

RapLeaf contends that it assists Fortune 2,000 companies gain insight into their customers so they can delivery timely and appropriate messaging. The company also says it helps customers understand their online footprint.

Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocacy group, said the data disclosures show the need for the federal government to regulate consumer data sharing.

The Wall Street Journal series shows that it’s time government cracks down on this type of bad digital behavior,” he said.

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