Homeland Security Launches New Ads to Demonstrate Importance of Family Emergency Planning While Potentially Violating Personal Privacy Policy

Homeland Security Launches New Ads to Demonstrate Importance of Family Emergency Planning While Potentially Violating Personal Privacy Policy


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and The Advertising Council unveiled new public service advertisements (PSAs) today to support the Ready Campaign. Ready is a national public service advertising campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies.


The campaign is intended to encompass broadcast, print, radio and internet.  BBDO is the agency doing the pro bono work and they are working with the Ad Council for the placements.  Now, BBDO is a strong DoubleClick shop so let’s talk through some details here.


The privacy policy on the Homeland Security Web site for this campaign, Ready America specifically states the following:




When you visit some websites, their webservers generate pieces of information known as cookies. Some cookies collect personal information to recognize your computer in the future. This is not the case at Ready.gov, where we only use non-persistent cookies or “per-session cookies.” These cookies do not collect personal information on users and they are erased as soon as you leave our website.


Per-session cookies serve technical purposes like providing seamless navigation through Ready.gov. These cookies do not permanently record data and they are not stored on your computer’s hard drive. Department of Homeland Security cookies are stored in memory and are only available during an active browser session. Again, once you close your browser, the cookie disappears.


When this campaign goes live, they will undoubtedly use an ad server to manage the campaign.  Hmm.  DoubleClick uses third-party cookies with their ad server.  Persistent cookies.  In fact their cookies are so darn persistent that they brag to have the most prominent cookie on the web.  If the Dept. of Homeland Security is going to run an ad campaign through BBDO and BBDO is going to use an ad server who uses cookies to manage the campaign, track impressions, clicks, uniques and post-click events than the privacy policy of the Dept. of Homeland Security and Ready Now is directly under violation.  Big brother is watching.


Take a look at my post on Legitimate Cookieless Ad Serving.  TruEffect worked on a project for an agency and one of their clients – a governmental agency – who was under a very similar situation.  They were actually accused of misconduct because of ad serving cookies when they worked with a different agency.  The agency came to us seeking a cookieless solution and that was when we patented SafeServe Technology.  SafeServe is cookieless ad serving and is compliant with privacy policies that compel and advertiser to not use persistent cookies.  I have not dug in deep yet to see what Ready Now is doing, or BBDO for that matter but I will.  Maybe someone from over there will see this post and will call me because this governmental agency, affiliated with the White House, got into a heap of trouble over the use of ad serving cookies a few years ago.  And DoubleClick was the ad server back then too.

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