As part of its routine monitoring of truth and transparency in advertising, the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau challenged claims from Brave Inc, a provider of online surveillance protection, including a web browser feature that blocks third-party tracking. The NAD ultimately ruled that Brave needed to modify certain claims of consumer protection, but another was substantiated. The mixed result came down as we see increasing interest in privacy from consumers, advertisers, and regulators, including government agencies as well as the NAD. Brave Inc. was not shielded from a NAD inquiry.
Brave, Inc., is an open-source privacy company offering a web browser whose Shields feature is supposed to protect user privacy by blocking network requests from third parties for advertising and tracking. In the NAD case, three of Brave’s claims about its browser were at issue:
- An implied claim that the Brave web browser does not share data with third parties.
- “Brave stops online surveillance.”
- “Shields everything… that destructs your privacy.”
In support of these implied and express claims, Brave cited a study of privacy risks associated with Web browsing; a study Brave conducted that compared privacy risks from using Brave’s Shields feature to those from using Google Chrome with default privacy settings; and Brave’s own business practices.
The NAD ultimately agreed that Brave had supported its implied claim that it does not share users’ data with third parties, but recommended that Brave discontinue the two express claims, which said Brave “Shields everything…” and that “Brave stops online surveillance.” While NAD found Brave’s business practices around privacy to be adequate support for the implied claim, it determined that the express claims were too broad to be supported this way. These claims were unqualified promises of total protection, NAD said, and not a good fit for the claims.
Particularly where consumers pay a premium for privacy, advertising claims about privacy must affirmatively be substantiated. If you require advertising claim substantiation for consumer protection products, MMR Strategy Group offers consumer surveys, research, and consultation to properly substantiate your claims.